Genetic Enhancement as Mutually Assured Destruction

Posted by Jesse Reynolds March 24, 2008
Biopolitical Times
An article in the latest issue of Democracy- a fairly new progressive policy journal - frames the prospect of human genetic modification as a threat to global security. Jamie Metzel, an expert on international relations and currently Executive Vice President of the Asia Society, argues that an international treaty is called for:
But despite this looming threat, the world remains dangerously unprepared for the international genetic "arms race" that could one day emerge, in which countries or even corporations compete to generate the most competitive offspring, even as they may recognize the dangers of following this path.... As soon as one country heads down this path, others will immediately set out to keep pace. Sound improbable? The nuclear arms race resulted in the irrational production of more than 30,000 nuclear warheads, and the world came dangerously close to nuclear war more than once. The genetic arms race could well turn out the same way, and this time, we might not be so lucky.

To maximize the benefits of advances in genetic technologies while minimizing their potential harms, the world community must develop global standards and a multilateral structure capable of both promoting advances in human genetic manipulation and preventing abuses. Call it a Genetic Heritage Safeguard Treaty. The science is moving extremely fast. The policy framework must now catch up.
You can read the full piece here.