Can gene editing preserve line between medicine and eugenics?

CRISPR is the latest chapter in a long, darkly comic history of human genetic improvement. Like whole-gene engineering in the 1970s, gene editing is proving remarkably versatile in basic science research: New applications appear weekly. But conservative researchers insist that the taboos against germ-line engineering and enhancement remain in place. However, notwithstanding the reassurance that eugenics is “generally considered abhorrent,” some commentators are actively and publicly advocating what they consider a new kind of eugenics.

The eugenics movement of the early 20th century was rooted in a spirit of collectivism. Ideals of progress and perfection dominated American culture. Across the political spectrum, Americans sought social improvement through a variety of reforms, ranging from public health to food production to workplace environments and education. Such a project required collective effort. Government legislation was broadly accepted as a tool of positive change. Cooperation for the good of society was a sign of good citizenship. And science, epitomizing rationality, efficiency, and mastery over nature, was society’s most potent tool of progress.

Scholars of disability have mounted a vigorous critique of the pursuit of genetic perfection. Call it the Gattaca defense: By granting individuals the power and permission to select against difference, we will be selecting for intolerance of difference. But Sparrow notes that enforcing diversity is itself morally problematic. Should gene editing become a safe and viable option, it would be unethical to prohibit parents from using it to correct a lethal genetic disease such as Tay-Sachs, or one that causes great suffering, such as cystic fibrosis or myotonic dystrophy.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post:article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Can We Cure Genetic Diseases Without Slipping into Eugenics?

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend