Genetic Engineering

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Many challenges to the new technology need to be addressed so that the research and treatment may proceed without violation of public trust and confidence.

Legal and ethical challenges can be classified into the following question categories:

  • Who has the right to the cure?
  • What will be the cost and availability?
  • Do we have the right to alter a person's genes?
  • Do we have the right to control the genetic complement of the human population and other eugenic considerations?

Several scientific questions also pose additional considerations:

  • The development of new genes combinations increases genetic diversity, which is normally considered a positive effect, but may have unintended, unforeseen consequences.
  • Creating new genes may also create new pathogenic organisms for which we have no cure.
  • Do we have the ability to safely handle new genetically altered organisms?
  • Certain bacteria have already been utilized to clean up oil spills; are there other uses?
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Biology © 2004 by Glen E. Moulton, Ed.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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