Go slow on gene edit­ing

Re “The path to GMO hu­mans,” Ed­i­to­rial, Aug. 4

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

As pointed out in your ed­i­to­rial, the ethics re­lated to gene edit­ing are ex­tremely com­pli­cated. This is es­pe­cially true in to­day’s prag­matic cul­ture.

All so-called im­prove­ments are not good. Although much good can come out of gene tech­nol­ogy, we could also be led down a very dangerous path.

That path could lead to dis­re­spect­ing the dig­nity of hu­mans, de­mean­ing the dis­abil­ity com­mu­nity, en­hanc­ing a phys­i­cal trait rather than treat­ing a se­ri­ous con­di­tion, cre­at­ing fur­ther dis­par­ity be­tween the rich and poor (it will be only the rich that will be able to af­ford it).

The idea of an in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tion is good, but along with re­searchers, physi­cians, and con­sumer ad­vo­cates that make up the con­stituency of such a con­ven­tion, please add bona fide the­olo­gians to the list (many hos­pi­tals have added such con­sul­tants to their staffs). Wes­ley Stal­naker

Va­len­cia

As The Times aptly coun­sels, hu­man gene edit­ing ad­vances will present pro­found eth­i­cal is­sues.

But even as your ed­i­tors aver that the “specter of eu­gen­ics” war­rants in­ci­sive dis­cus­sion, they omit a mud­dling fac­tor: Hu­man gene edit­ing ad­vances demon­strate that man is be­com­ing ever more ca­pa­ble of play­ing “God.”

That poses an omi­nous co­nun­drum. The long per­sist­ing stem-cell con­tro­versy sug­gests that many peo­ple be­lieve re­li­gious tenets, rather than sec­u­lar sci­en­tific prin­ci­ples, should pro­vide gene edit­ing guid­ance.

Prob­lem is, which re­li­gion’s be­liefs are to take prece­dence? Even among monothe­is­tic faiths, no­tions of God and ac­cept­able med­i­cal pro­ce­dures vary greatly.

As The Times in­ti­mates, hu­man gene edit­ing ad­vances will come much faster than uni­ver­sal agree­ment on un­der­ly­ing eth­i­cal is­sues.

Look for faith-based dis­sen­sion to dom­i­nate dis­cus­sions. Ed­ward Al­ston

Santa Maria

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