Human germline genetic modification: scientific and bioethical perspectives

Kevin R. Smith, Sarah Chan, John Harris

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    The latest mammalian genetic modification technology offers efficient and reliable targeting of genomic sequences, in the guise of designer genetic recombination tools. These and other improvements in genetic engineering technology suggest that human germline genetic modification (HGGM) will become a safe and effective prospect in the relatively near future. Several substantive ethical objections have been raised against HGGM including claims of unacceptably high levels of risk, damage to the status of future persons, and violations of justice and autonomy. This paper critically reviews the latest GM science and discusses the key ethical objections to HGGM. We conclude that major benefits are likely to accrue through the use of safe and effective HGGM and that it would thus be unethical to take a precautionary stance against HGGM.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)491-513
    Number of pages23
    JournalArchives of Medical Research
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


    • Human germline
    • Genetic modification
    • Gene targeting
    • Gene therapy
    • Genetic enhancement
    • Genethics


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