February 22, 2024

Selling bioethics

We’re back! Holidays are over and BioEdge has resumed publication. Now, while we’re still fresh and enthusiastic, is the time for our readers to make suggestions for improving our coverage.

This week the lead story focuses on a report from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in Britain which has given an in-principle endorsement to germline modification. While the report is purely advisory, most of its recommendations on similar topics have eventually become law in the UK. For this reason, its advice to the British government is bound to have a world-wide impact.

Most people, including members of Parliament, will only read newspaper articles about this radical development in genetics. But it is fundamentally a philosophical, not a scientific question: what makes us human?

The Nuffield report fails to answer this, but the full report is scathingly critical of what it calls “genomic essentialism”: we are not our genes. Instead, as I read it, it has framed the question as a consumer rights issue: provided that the technology is safe, don’t couples have a right to have the kind of children they want?

What do you think?

Michael Cook
Holidays are over and BioEdge has resumed publication