Underwhelmed: hyperbole, regulatory policy, and the genetic revolution
McGill Law Journal 2000 May; 45(2): 437-460
Rapid advances in the field of genetics in recent years have caused some commentators to suggest the emergence of a "genetic revolution". Such advances have been both praised as the "future of medicine" and condemned for encouraging the acceptance in society of laissez-faire eugenics. Yet the effect of technological advances flowing from the science of genetics appears somewhat overstated as few products of the genetic revolution, particularly in the areas of gene therapy and genetic testing, have managed to satisfy scientists' expectations to date. Furthermore, misdirected regulation of such advances can exacerbate the social, legal, and ethical problems associated with genetics, particularly in the context of health care, where issues of human cloning and the use of premature genetic testing technologies dominate current public debate. In this article, the author criticizes the hyperbolic rhetoric surrounding the genetic revolution and calls for a more balanced and informed approach to the development of genetic policies and regulations. Such an approach should include substantial interdisciplinary debate and an active role on the part of the government in the identification and communication of accurate information relating to the effects of recent technological advances in the field of genetics.
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