Impact of genetic manipulation on society and medicine

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Science  14 Jan 1983:
Vol. 219, Issue 4581, pp. 135-140
DOI: 10.1126/science.6336852

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Human beings have been manipulating the genetic characteristics plants and animals since the introduction of agriculture indirect manipulation of human genes occurred with widespread use of public health and medical measures that preserve genes causing disease. The production of biologicals by DNA technology raises few ethical problems. Predictive medicine in which genetic markers (including DNA variants) are used for antenatal and preclinical diagnosis of genetic diseases and susceptibilities poses new questions of confidentiality, private versus societal goals, and self-determination. When normal DNA is used to treat the somatic cells of patients with hemoglobinopathies and other genetic diseases, no new ethical problems arise beyond those presented by an novel theory. In contrast, manipulation of DNA in human fertilized eggs would constitute a qualitative departure from previous therapies since this would affect future generations. In order to be able to make wise decisions on these matters the public must be well informed. Thus, formal and informal education in human biology and genetics must be improved at all levels.

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