1. "The Eugenic Temptation"
by Everett Mendelsohn
An excellent article by Harvard professor of the history of
Everett Mendelsohn, titled "The Eugenic Temptation: When
Behind Technology," appears in May's Harvard Alumni magazine.
Mendelsohn concludes: "The institutions of genetic, scientific,
technical research, and the industries of genetic application,
relatively well organized and generously funded. Their imperatives
are clear: push toward new knowledge and its applications. By
contrast, our ethical, social discussion is unfocused, episodic,
scattered. We need to harness moral thinking to genetic technique.
The need for organized, intelligent debate involving an active
and committed scientists has never been clearer. Solving the
"technically sweet" problems first (the phrase is
scientists) and only then turning to deal with the moral and
consequences has in the past proved much too costly, and will
Full text: <http://www.harvard-magazine.com/issues/ma00/eugenics.html>.
2. "On the New Eugenics" by
The on-line newsletter "NetFuture: Technology and Human
devoted most of its February 16 issue to techno-eugenics and
human genetic technologies. In an essay titled "On the
NetFuture editor Steve Talbott writes:
"The genetic engineers and cheerleaders…seem remarkably
that they have mastered what the rest of us have not: namely,
means to be human. This is odd considering that most or all
would profess discomfort with the language of meaning as opposed
the instrumental language of science. Without hesitation they
about making human beings *better*, as if this gave us an obvious
roadmap for the re-engineering task."
Current and past issues of NetFuture, and subscription information,
are available at <http://www.oreilly.com/~stevet/netfuture/>.
3. SOS Human Genome: Campaign to Ban Patents
on Human Genes
The April 20 issue of Nature magazine carries a news article
"Politicians seek to block human gene patents in Europe."
According to the article, a new campaign called SOS Human Genome
has been launched, calling for an end to the patenting of human
German MP Wolfgang Wodarg and French MP Jean-Francois Mattei
campaign will force the European Patent Office to temporarily
issuing patents on plants and animals as well as human genes.
The call for a moratorium followed a report prepared by the
politicians, which argues that human material should not become
private property. The report will be debated by the Council
Europe's parliamentary full assembly in June.
4. Genetic Scientist Would Ban Human Germline
In a front-page article on the Human Genome Project in the
Francisco Chronicle (April 25, 2000), biotechnology reporter
Abate quotes geneticist Eric Lander asserting that most scientists
"would abhor the notion of tinkering with human inheritance."
Lander states, "I would like to see a moratorium or a ban
[germline] modifications that would have to be repealed if there
were ever to be a compelling case to be made for it."
Lander is director of the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, one of the major research labs involved
the public Human Genome Project.