Background - Global Bioethics Initiative

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11 Δεκ 2012 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 7 μήνες)

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Inaugural Conference

IHEU
-
Appignani Center for Bioethics

777 UN Plaza

New York City


Humanist Bioethics: Global Ethical Implications of Biotech Advances

22 April and 23 April, 2005

Background Information




Stem Cell Research
: President Bush sharply limite
d the US f
ederal government's funding of research
on embryonic stem cells. The US administration rationalized this policy by arguing that the so
-
called
"adult" stem cells could replace embryonic ones for therapeutic purposes. Meanwhile, Britain and
Singapo
re passed laws intended to balance the need to constrict any moves towards human cloning
with the need for stemcell research into diseases. In November of 2004 the citizens of both California
and Switzerland passed referenda for state funding of stem cell
research on the stem cells of human
embryos. Switzerland is the first country in the world to put this controversial issue to a referendum. In
California, the US Proposition 71 (Nov. 2, 2004) ballot funded $3 billion worth of research using
embryonic stem
cells. Proposition 71 aims at subverting President Bush's decision to prohibit federally
financed scientists from working on all but a few dozen embryonic stem
-
cell lines.




Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings

-

Debate in the UN has centered on whether the propose
d
convention should ban therapeutic cloning along with the cloning of human beings for reproductive
purposes. The issue of how and/or whether the world should cont
rol human cloning technology has
divided the UN General Assembly in 2003. The General Assembly's legal committee voted 80 to 79 in
favor of a delay in adopting a resolution on human cloning suggested by Iran on behalf of Islamic
Countries. The majority of
the delegates agreed to postpone any debate on the subject until February
2005. The debate evolved around two resolutions: the first called for a ban on all human cloning
proposed by Costa Rica and backed by the US, and the second (supported by Belgium), c
alled only for
the prohibition of the development of cloned embryos for reproductive purposes. Those backing this
proposal argue that cloning for research yields stem cells crucial for curing various diseases. This issue
relates closely to assisted reprodu
ctive technologies, and is a question of human rights and family
planning. On November 19, 2004 members of the United Nations abandoned the battle to prohibit
human cloning. The legal committee opted instead to draw up a non
-
binding declaration which
encou
rages countries to develop their own laws to regulate human cloning. The self
-
regulative
proposal was advanced by Italy which, like the US initially backed Costa Rica resolution.




Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights

-

In 1997, the
UNESCO General
Conference adopted the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rig
hts
-

the only
international instrument in the field of bioethics. The Declaration was endorsed by the United Nations
General Assembly in 1998. UNESCO's General Co
nference also adopted a resolution for its
implementation thus committing the member
-
States to take suitable measures to promote the
Declaration's principles and encourages their implementation. The Universal Declaration on the Human
Genome and Human Right
s is a starting point of international awareness of the requirement for ethical
issues to be addressed in science and technology.




Genetic Engineering and Transhumanism

-

Undeniably controversial, "transhumanism" is the idea
that humans can use reason to

transcend their human condition limitations through genetic
engineering and body enhancement
. The Food and Drug Administration forbids genetic
modification/enhancement (so called gene therapy for both adding enhancements or correcting
genetic defects) as
they speculate that scientists can never understand genomes well enough to avoid
unintended consequences for future generations. By

acknowledging the need for democratic control
and ethical reasonableness, transhumanists" consider that banning genetic engineering would be a
profound mistake.




Organ Markets

Recent developments in immunosuppressiv
e drugs and improved surgical techniqu
es
have now made it much easier successfully to transplant organs from one human body to another.
These developments have led to the development of blackmarkets in human organs, with people who
need (for example) kidneys to survive or to improve the qualit
y of their lives purchasing such organs
from impoverished persons in the developing world. Given the increasing need for transplant organs,
should such markets be
regulated and legalized? Could the success of therapeutic cloning eliminate the
need to consider this option?