genetic enhancement

genetic enhancement

The use of genetics to improve selected characteristics or traits of an organism. It is a practice common in agriculture, e.g., in the engineering of supersweet corn or pesticide-resistant soybeans and is both welcomed and feared in human affairs.

In general human enhancements differ from genetic therapies in that they concern the alteration of inherited traits that do not cause disease.

Nongenetic enhancements are common in contemporary medical practice: many middle-aged people undergo surgery to reduce facial wrinkles or replace lost hair; men with erectile dysfunction use drugs to facilitate sexual intercourse; and some parents obtain human growth hormone to increase their children's height.

Ethicists and the general public hold varying opinions on whether it is advisable or desirable to use genetic technology to enhance human qualities, e.g., the selection of the sex of their offspring, or the enhancement of their children's musculature, intelligence, or behavior. Some genetic enhancements may have dual functions: genetic alterations that treat muscular dystrophies might also be used to enhance the athletic abilities of healthy individuals. These intersections between health and cosmetics provoke the thorniest ethical questions: Should humans try to optimize selected characteristics of their species through genetics? Who will pay for such enhancements? Will they be available only to those with the wealth to purchase them? Will they be restricted in some nations because of religious or social concerns and available in others where these considerations are not shared? These and other problems remain to be addressed by ethicists, scientists, families, and society at large.

References in periodicals archive ?
He notes that, at the extreme, genetic enhancement could create a group of people so advanced they would either enslave or obliterate the unenhanced human population.
Right now, we know nothing about genetic enhancement," said Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford.
Where genetic engineering really can do something that embryo selection cannot is in genetic enhancement - better known as designer babies.
And a more difficult question, when will we be prepared to say that we are allowed to use editing for genetic enhancement purposes?
Research Project: Genetic Enhancement of Lettuce, Spinach, Melon, and Related Species
Tereso Abella, leader of the Genetic Enhancement of the Red Nile Tilapia Breeding Program of the CLSU-FAC, said their tests aimed to produce a brighter, flaming red variety.
The next noteworthy position within bioconservativism is Fukuyama's objection to Savulescu's moral theory of maximization of life chances by using genetic enhancement.
In addition to providing an insider's account of what Al Jonsen has called "the birth of bioethics," the book ranges over topics such as the goals of medicine, genetic enhancement, euthanasia, and health care economics, to mention just a few.
Among the topics are the responsible self, enhancement and evolution, an ethical assessment of human genetic enhancement, technology as a new theology from "New Atheism" to technotheism, evolutionary theory applied to institutions with an case study of the impact of Europeanization on higher education policies, and DNA and the evolution of motifs in Beethoven's greatest piano work "The Hammerklavier Sonata.
Recently American swimming coach John Leonard said he could imagine genetic enhancement technology soon being used by athletes to improve performance, transferring favourable genes into their cells.
The next logical step might be genetic enhancement, meaning that Huxley's Brave New World is getting closer to science than fiction.
Unlike the use of performance-enhancing drugs, which a medical exam can detect, it will be nearly impossible to prove that an athlete underwent some types of genetic enhancement.