Hank Greely on CGS and Human Genetic Modification

Posted by Jesse Reynolds September 19, 2008
Biopolitical Times
Hank Greely

In the new issue of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, CGS's Marcy Darnovsky and bioethicist Hank Greeley of Stanford Law School trade perspectives on inheritable human genetic enhancement. Greely seems to believe that the only way social justice could possibly enter an assessment of a "designer baby" future would be in endorsing wider access to the technology. I suppose we'll leave that position to advocates of social justice such as neo-conservative David Frum.

Regarding the practice of human genetic enhancement itself, Greely denies any "enthusiasm." But he simultaneously argues that legal prohibitions against the practice - currently in place in more than 40 countries - are certain to be ineffective once the technology develops.

This isn't the first time Greely has been a nonenthusiastic opponent of regulating emerging human biotechnologies. His concerns about human reproductive cloning appear to be limited to those of safety. If that barrier can be surmounted, cloning can be used "as a fertility aid" or "where parents want to create a new child to be a bone marrow donor for an older sick." Greely has also suggested that the technology may be appropriate for "cloning a child who has accidentally died."

 Previously on Biopolitical Times: