We are fast approaching the most consequential technological threshold in all of human history: the ability to directly manipulate the genes we pass on to our children.
Development and use of these technologies would irrevocably change the nature of human life and human society. It would destabilize human biological identity and function. It would put into play a wholly unprecedented set of social, psychological and political forces that would feed back upon themselves with impacts quite beyond our ability to imagine, much less control.
These technologies are being developed and promoted by an influential network of scientists who see themselves ushering in a new epoch for human life on Earth. They look forward to the day when parents can quite literally assemble their children from genes listed in a catalog. They celebrate a future in which our common humanity is lost as a genetically enhanced elite increasingly acquires the attributes of a separate species.
There is little public awareness of the full implications of the new human genetic engineering (HGE) technologies or of the campaign to promote them. There are...