In ‘Redesigning Life’, analysis of ethical issues of gene editing falls short

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

In Redesigning Life, molecular pharmacologist John Parrington has produced a veritable compendium of games that scientists like him can play with life itself. He invites us to imagine the potential of life forms “whose very genetic recipe was manufactured in a chemistry lab using new components never seen before on Earth”.

What follows is a thorough and comprehensive account of the methodologies for altering life that have been or are being developed, and the directions that they may take in future. Those methodologies include the insertion or deletion of genes, the engineering of synthetic genes and the design of creatures unprecedented in nature.

However, Parrington’s way of dealing with the ethical issues raised by the technologies that he so gleefully explores is rather limited.


Early on, he notes that in agriculture, it is important to ensure that genome editing benefits the majority of humanity rather than stuffing the coffers of vast corporations. But he fails to say how this might be achieved.

Later, Parrington worries about designer babies engineered for looks, intelligence or extraordinary talent…But he offers not a word about the cogency of the fears, or about the moral basis…

Read full, original post: Gene editing: Running with scissors

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