Elliot Institute calls for a ban on human genetic engineering
The Elliot Institute for Social Sciences Research has called for a presumptive criminal ban against human cloning and genetic engineering of humans and fetal experimentation. This call for a ban comes in the wake of public controversy over human cloning. Many public officials, including the Clinton Administration, have said there should be some type of ban or regulation of human cloning.
“Clearly the cloning issue has attracted public attention and there is a widespread public sentiment to ban this practice,” said Dr. David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute. “On the other hand, eugenicists are seeking ways to minimize any regulations on human cloning.”
The ban put forth by the Elliot Institute would not only ban human cloning but also many types of genetic engineering that are seen as a threat to the dignity of human life. Of concern to proponents of the ban are issues involving experimentation on human fetuses and embryos.
“Rather than limit ourselves to a ban on cloning, this is an excellent opportunity to educate the public about a wide range of threats to human dignity involved in the manipulation and engineering of humans, particularly of nascent human beings who are treated as disposable raw material,” Reardon said.
The proposed ban defines “human engineering” as “the genetic alteration of human gamete material; or the non-therapeutic manipulation of nascent human life after cell division has begun and prior to birth.” However, Reardon stresses that the ban is not a “total ban” on genetic engineering — something legislators have been hesitant to approve. The ban includes ways for legislators to add exceptions for certain technologies that have not used human genetic material. Scientists would have to convince the legislature that the technology would benefit society and will be used in a way that respects human dignity.
“This means that scientists who claim to have come up with a new technique of human engineering are encouraged and invited to approach the legislature for approval of this technology,” Reardon said. “We don’t want to discourage science. The point is that the question of whether any technology using human DNA or nascent human life shall be allowed is a question of public policy and must be subjected to public investigation and debate.”
(An updated proposal and website dedicated to this issue can be viewed at www.ElliotInstitute.org/eugenics)