Op-Ed

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Supersoldiers, superintelligence, superanimals, and supercomputers are a possible progression of today's genetic research, which is why an international consensus on this research and its application must be achieved, panelists told a House subcommittee on terrorism June 19.

After extolling the current and potential achievements of genetic research to treat and possibly cure those who are ill, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, began the hearing with a series of questions: “When, if ever, should it be permissible to utilize genetic technology not to alleviate suffering or deal with a malady, but to actually enhance human capacity? Where do we draw the line between therapies and enhancements? What manipulation of animal DNA is moral?”

To those who might argue that scientists in the West would never mix human and animal DNA, Sherman noted that North Korea has developed nuclear weapons and added, “Not all technology is in the hands of the moral.”

Sherman said it is necessary to approach the issue with the assumption that, absent an international consensus...