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Genetic enhancement and conservative ethics


The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity announced that they would strongly object to NIH funding of "genetic enhancement" research. I didn't know that there is a researcher who has planned genetic enhancement research and applied to the MIH for research grants. The following is from CBHD website:

The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity strongly denounces the decision by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund a project to develop guidelines for the use of human subjects in genetic enhancement research. The grant, totaling almost three-quarters of a million dollars, is being given to Maxwell Mehlman and Case Law School to promote the genetic re-engineering of human beings for non-therapeutic purposes under the rubric of "enhancement.”

“This is a violation of the spirit of the NIH-sponsored Human Genome Project,” says CBHD Senior Fellow Ben Mitchell. “Providing this grant signals a fundamental and dangerous change in the policy of the NIH, resurrecting the mistaken goals of the eugenics programs in the United States and Europe in the early twentieth century.” (web)

I searched the name "Maxwell Mehlman" on the web and found that he is JD, not MD, and his research is not medical research, but a kind of interdisciplinary research aiming to promote ethical and legal discussions about what regulations should be made if we are to accept genetic enhancement research on human subjects. Case Western Reserve University's website explains as follows:

Researchers will determine whether there are any conditions under which it would be ethical to conduct research on genetic enhancement using human subjects. Based on their findings, the investigators will propose changes in existing rules and regulations to govern research on genetic enhancement using human subjects. (web)

It is clear that Maxwell Mehlman aims to put regulations on genetic enhancement, and approve some kinds of clinical research. (See the abstract of his paper in 2005). I personally object to human genetic enhancement, however, I don't think discussion on the regulation of genetic enhancement should also be refrained from, even if discussion is made using taxpayers funds. What do you think?

By the way, The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity is a representative group of "conservative bioethics," which is supported by Christian fundamentalists (I suppose). Their main rivals are, probably, bioethics.net, Hastings Center etc., which represent American "liberal bioethics." But I don't know much about the political scheme of American bioethics. If some of you know better than I, please let us know the details. Personally, I am not conservative or liberal. Such a dichotomy does not suit my philosophy. American bioethics tends to be dichotomous, such as in the debate on abortion, and forces us to choose one of the two sides. This is the limitation of current politicized American bioethics.

See also: Liberal & conservative bioethics, Ruth Macklin and Eric Cohen, Hastings Center Report

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You can get more information from EurekAlert! website:

"Case Law School receives $773,000 NIH grant to develop guidelines for genetic enhancement research"


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