GM Ethics - Gene Therapy

'Discuss the ethical concerns raised by the genetic manipulation of animals (including humans), plants and microorganisms' - OCR specification

GM Ethics - Gene Therapy


  • Gene therapies could cure or reduce symptoms of some genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis.
  • It can extend lifespans or save lives.


  • The virus vector may cause disease.
  • The procedure may be invasive or painful.
  • The effects are only temporary so the treatment has to be repeated.
  • There may be rejection problems.
  • There are animal testing concerns.
  • In germline gene therapy, the effects of gene transfer are unpredictable. An inadvertent modification of DNA introduced into the germline could create a new human disease or interfere with human evolution in an unexpected way.
  • Individuals resulting from germline cell therapy would have no say.
  • 'Designer babies' could be created with traits chosen by their parents,
  • Concerns about possible eugenic uses have also been raised.


Although the procedure is difficult and painful, somatic cell gene therapy could significantly extend and improve the quality of someone's life, However, germline cell gene therapy is completely unacceptable and is illegal to perform on humans, although it is allowed in experimental animals.


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