genes and enhancement

J. Peterson (
Sat, 22 Jun 1996 08:25:39 -0500 (CDT)

The discussion of ethics and the human genome project centers these days
on the protection of research subjects and personal information developed
from genetic tests.

What I would like to raise here is the further question of whether it
would be appropriate to allow parents to fund genetic intervention which
is at minimal physical risk to their child, in order to try to enhance the
child's physical endowment. My guess is that most of us make every effort
to give our children the best possible start, from nutrition during
pregnancy to schooling opportunities. Could genetic enhancement in
principle be another way to help our children, or is there something
importantly different about it?

This question has immediate import because of slippery slope concerns and
has already come up in related medical choices such as the use of human
growth hormone. What are your thoughts from here?

James C. Peterson, Ph.D.
Visiting Fellow in Molecular and Clinical Genetics
University of Iowa

C. C. Dickson Chair of Ethics
Wingate University
Charlotte, NC 28174