The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 19, Issue 4, Winter 2019

Kevin Wilger
Pages 601-615

Genetic Engineering
A Review of the Science, Ethics, and Recent Applications

Genetic engineering is a rapidly evolving field of research with potentially powerful therapeutic applications. The technology CRISPR-Cas9 not only has improved the accuracy and overall feasbility of genome editing but also has increased access to users by lowering cost and increasing usability and speed. The potential benefits of genetic engineering may come with an increased risk of off-target events or carcinogenic growth. Germ-line cell therapy may also pose risks to potential progeny and thus have an additional burden of proof for safety. Persons responsible for evaluating the ethics of genetic-engineering research programs or clinical trials should do so in light of the nature, integrity, and totality of the human person. Recent news of the implantation and birth of genetically engineered human embryos is just one example of increased rogue science. Health care institutions should consider what steps can be taken to prevent or slow this trend.