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Genetic Engineering

Moral and Ethical Issues in Gene Therapy

image Published: Apr 14, 2010

Genetic research has advanced in a dramatic fashion in the last decade or so, to the point where it has now become possible to attempt therapeutic genetic modification, in a few cases of human genes, where a defects exists which manifests itself in certain serious diseases. This possibility, known as gene therapy, is only in its infancy. At present, no one knows how effective it will prove to be, even in the few conditions on which it is being tried - whether it will only be of relatively limited application, or whether it will open up many wider possibilities. It suffers both over-optimistic claims from some quarters and exaggerated dangers from others, over which the church needs to be discerning. It is, of course, not possible to assert exactly where the possibilities opened up by today’s technology will lead in terms of future developments, but various ethical and moral issues are implicit in the technology which it is important to draw to the Church’s attention, so that it is forearmed in an area where developments have been taking place at a bewildering pace. An editorial in the “New Scientist” in April 1994 drew attention to the need to weigh up what may still be future issues today, before the technological “horse” bolts from the stable and it is too late to lock the door.

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Report to General Assembly 2001

image Published: Jun 01, 2001

The recent genetic engineering of a monkey in the USA has now brought to the fore some important issues about the research on animals for human benefits. The dramatic developments in cloning and embryonic human stem cells are raising another basic question of the increasingly blurred borderline between animal and human research. Research done on animals today, like cloned sheep and mouse stem cells, can rapidly become applied for use in humans. Insights from human examples feed back into animal research. In this report, we wish to examine how far we may use and modify animals for human uses, and the relationship between biotechnology in animals and in humans.

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