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New book by Gregory Stock and John Campbell promotes human
germline engineering

Genetic Crossroads
April 16th, 2000

(Gregory Stock and John Campbell, eds. Engineering the Human

Germline: An Exploration of the Science and Ethics of Altering
the Genes We Pass to Our Children (New York: Oxford University
Press, 2000. 169 pages, $29.95.)

Stock and Campbell are the organizers of the 1998 UCLA Symposium
that kicked off the current campaign in support of human germline
engineering. This new book is the latest move in that campaign.

The editors acknowledge that the topic of germline engineering is
"fraught with controversy" and needs to be "carefully examined"
through "widespread public debate." But these rhetorical devices
hardly disguise their intent, which is to argue in favor of germline
engineering.

The first section contains essays by germline engineering advocates
Leroy Hood, Daniel Koshland Jr., Mario Capecchi, W. French Anderson,
Michael Rose, and Lee Silver. The second section includes transcripts
of the 1998 UCLA conference. The third section presents statements
by 17 other scientists and scholars, including opponents of germline
engineering such as Paul Billings, Ruth Hubbard, and Sheldon Krimsky.
Of the 136 pages of relevant text, 121 (89%) are by authors who
advocate germline engineering; only about 15 pages (11%) are by
opponents.

This book provides an excellent account of the arguments that
proponents of germline engineering believe will ultimately prevail.
Opponents of germline engineering need to become familiar with them
if we are to counter and overcome them.

A report on the 1998 UCLA "Engineering the Human Germline" conference
can be found at <http://www.ess.ucla.edu:80/huge>. Stock and Campbell also
have a new website, <http://research.mednet.ucla.edu/pmts/germline>.

Selected Quotes:

Daniel Koshland: "I can't see any possible reason for not allowing
enhancement therapy. We are facing monumental problems with the
population explosion, environmental pollution, the shortage of
fossil fuels, and the serious lack of leadership….Should we turn
our back on new methodologies that might bring us smarter people
and better leaders?…If we could help the common man have children
who could more easily get jobs and do better in a computer society,
should we say No?" (page 29)

Gregory Pence: "Some day soon, when the opportunities arise, we will
see the wisdom of allowing parents maximal choice about their future
children….I personally would feel *obligated* to give my future
children such benefits….Others might disagree and choose not to
do so for their children--a decision I would respect. What I fail
to understand is how other people--or the federal government--could
think it just to prevent me from benefiting my future children in
this way." (page 113)

Lloyd Cohen: "[T]he presumed immorality of genetic manipulation
remains largely a mystery to me….[Some are concerned that parents]
will provide their own offspring an advantage that others with fewer
financial resources will not have available. To those morbidly
concerned with absolute equality of result, this may seem a
substantial problem. It does not seem so to me." (page 143)


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