Lisa Soleymani Lehmann
AMA J Ethics. 2017;19(12):1186-1192.
As climate change progresses, we humans might have to inhabit a world for which we are increasingly maladapted. If we were able to identify genes that directly influence our ability to thrive in a changing climate, would it be ethically justifiable to edit the human genome to enhance our ability to adapt to this new environment? Should we use gene editing not only to prevent significant disease but also to enhance our ability to function in the world? Here I suggest a “4-S framework” for analyzing the justifiability of gene editing that includes these considerations: (1) safety, (2) significance of harm to be averted, (3) succeeding generations, and (4) social consequences.
Gene editing has unprecedented potential to improve human health. CRISPR/Cas9 has a specificity and simplicity that opens up wide possibilities. If we are unable to prevent serious negative health consequences of climate change through environmental and public health measures, gene editing could have a role in helping human beings adapt to new environmental conditions. Any decision to proceed should apply the 4-S framework.
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