Moral reasons to edit the human genome: picking up from the Nuffield report

Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (8):514-523 (2019)
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In July 2018, the Nuffield Council of Bioethics released its long-awaited report on heritable genome editing. The Nuffield report was notable for finding that HGE could be morally permissible, even in cases of human enhancement. In this paper, we summarise the findings of the Nuffield Council report, critically examine the guiding principles they endorse and suggest ways in which the guiding principles could be strengthened. While we support the approach taken by the Nuffield Council, we argue that detailed consideration of the moral implications of genome editing yields much stronger conclusions than they draw. Rather than being merely ‘morally permissible’, many instances of genome editing will be moral imperatives.



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Hilary Bowman-Smart
University of South Australia