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Professor's Biological Enhancement Lecture Sparks Moral Debate

Publication Date: 
November 13, 2007
The Daily Texan
Mike Jeffers

Professor Henry T. "Hank" Greely is quoted in The Daily Texan at the University of Texas at Austin about his views on the ethics of genetic engineering :

Stanford Law School professor Hank Greely talked about the ethics behind human biological enhancements at the Applied Computational Engineering and Sciences Building to an audience of about 50 people.

Scientists can remove a single cell from the gooey mass of three-day-old embryos that are created from in vitro fertilization and perform DNA testing on that cell to identify if the embryo will have certain diseases such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis and Parkinson's disease, among others, he said.

"There's nothing inherently wrong about human biological enhancements, but some of them may cause problems with safety coercion and equity, and those problems need to be addressed, but the presumption should be that individuals should be able to use enhancing technologies unless there's a good reason for them not to," Greely said. "The fact that some people think its unnatural is not a good reason to ban it."


When asked what would happen if only Michael Jordans competed on a team "Greely said that it would become an arms race where athletes take risks but do not gain anything. He then posed the same question regarding intellectual enhancement."

"What about two chemistry professors taking smart pills to get better in a one-on-one competition, but what they are producing we hope has some broader benefits for society?" Greely asked.


Greely said people should not let their fear inhibit development.

"We get scared about a lot of technological advances, we like to get scared about technology, it's kind of like going to horror movies," Greely said. "People who tell the scariest stories get the biggest headlines."