Scientists voice support for human germ line genetic modification

December 18, 2002

Brussels, 17 Dec 2002

A number of European researchers have declared their support for research into safe and effective human germ line genetic modification, saying that it does not violate human rights.

The statement followed an international conference, and is signed by scientists from Belgium, the Netherlands, the US, Switzerland, the UK, France and Hungary.

'Inheritable genetic modification in humans is no longer a science fiction scenario. It would be feasible although inefficient and unsafe now, but is expected to be safe and effective in the foreseeable future if current research efforts are continued,' reads the joint statement.

'The techniques already work in a range of animal models. There is now proof of the concept that somatic gene therapy can be used for clinical purposes in humans,' the statement continues.

The scientists claim that five major social commitments are closely linked to the discussion on reproductive medicine and inheritable genetic modification in humans:

- The promotion of human health;
- The promotion of social life;
- The fair distribution of social wealth, including of access to medical technologies;
- A fair decision making process;
- The promotion of meaning and meaningful life.

The statement argues that there is no interpretation of human dignity which stands in the way of inheritable genetic modification. 'The so-called right to be born with a human genome that has not been modified by artificial means, was not recognised here as being a clear and compelling right,' claim the scientists.

The statement also encourages the 'development of a society that promotes open, responsible thinking and open, responsible action, accepting the possible contribution of science and technology, including genetics, while avoiding the reduction of human problems to scientific problems and avoiding the 'genetic fix'.'

In terms of future action, the statement calls for an assessment of differences in risk perception between actors and stakeholders and an improvement in communication regarding developments in genetics and related ethical issues.

For further information, please visit: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2 002-12/sari-ess121302.php

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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