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.

Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
References in periodicals archive ?
The conference brought together leading thinkers in law, Islamic studies, ethics, medicine and scientific research to help identify the legal gaps and pave a way forward." Dr Jeffrey Skopek, lecturer in Medical Law, Ethics and Policy at the University of Cambridge, gave a lecture titled 'The Harms of Human Genetic Enhancement: Secular Perspective', after which Dr Mohamed Ghaly, professor of Islam and Biomedical Ethics at the HBKU Research Centre for Islamic Legislation & Ethics, spoke about Islamic ethical perspectives on human gene editing.
"Right now, we know nothing about genetic enhancement," says Hank Greely of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford.
will be one of the first application areas for genetic enhancement,
Seifert also explicitly rejects euthanasia, torture, destructive stem-cell research, genetic enhancement, in vitro fertilization, and contraception.
We see similar agendas at work today; in the sex selection and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis practiced in the assisted reproductive industry; transhumanism's push for developing "post human" genetic enhancement technologies, eugenic abortion of fetuses testing positive for Down syndrome and dwarfism, the push for infanticide of babies born with disabilities, among other supposedly progressive causes.
Thus, the genetic enhancement applied to this fruit species seeks its domestication process and compliance to the consumer market demands, mainly to the quality of the fruit (Braga et al., 2006).
Chapter three focuses on human identity and human nature in the context of genetic enhancement. After genetic enhancements, a person's narrative identity (how they characterize themselves) might change, but their numeric identity (their quantitative person) will not.
"Right now, we know nothing about genetic enhancement," said Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford."We're never going to be able to say, honestly, 'This embryo looks like a 1550 on the two-part SAT.'" Even with an apparently straightforward physical characteristic like height, genetic manipulation would be a tall order.
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?