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Chalmers, DRC, Genetic Modification, Handbook of Global Bioethics, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht, HAMJ ten Have and B Gordijn (ed), Dordrecht Heidelberg, pp. 683-698. ISBN 978-94-007-2511-9 (2014) [Other Book Chapter]
Copyright 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014. Genetic modification (GM) is a term for the use of modern biotechnology techniques to change the genes of an organism, particularly of plants or animals. Genetic modification has the synonyms genetic manipulation (GM) and genetic engineering (GE). GM builds on traditional long-practiced plant or animal breeding techniques, which aim to identify and develop favorable traits or to restrict or breed out unwanted traits. Modern GM techniques have the capacity to accelerate the time, traditionally taken to introduce or eliminate the traits into the modified plants or animals. GM developments have been controversial and the subject of vigorous ethical, legal, and social debates within communities. A “precautionary approach” has been taken generally on issues of safety with some countries, particularly in the European Union more precautionary and less favorable to GM crops. Genetic modification is not a usual term in relation to humans. This is not to say that genetics are not an area of importance and considerable research activity in relation to humans. Many human diseases and conditions have been identified as having direct links to defects, or mutations, in a gene or group of genes. Early attempts at gene therapy clinical efforts proved premature, but from 2005, there has been renewed interest in gene therapy and some progress in trials. Gene therapy is an aspect of “regenerative medicine," which aims to replace or “regenerate” human cells and possibly organs to restore their normal function. Regenerative also extends to stem cell therapies, which have been ethically controversial where the stem cells are derived from human embryos.
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