Law and human genetics: regulating a revolution by Roger Brownsword, W.R. Cornish, Margaret Llewelyn

By Roger Brownsword, W.R. Cornish, Margaret Llewelyn

This factor addresses conceptual, moral, political and sensible matters confronting the legislations within the face of the genetic revolution.

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Whilst scientists and physicians are capable of identifying the possibilities which may advance therapeutic procedures, they are no better equipped than anyone else to identify the social and moral issues that might result from their use. Only society can ultimately decide the degree of importance to be attached to the benefits, hazards and impact of these. Such fundamental decisions within an area of inherent uncertainty can only be made within a properly constituted regulatory framework. Only law can provide the mechanisms that can facilitate effectively the negotiation between fact and value and the taking of necessary decisions about the nature and direction of scarce resources for both research and policy.

Parts of the industry have resisted labelling on the basis that consumers will not understand the information which is being given and will be scared off buying the food, or have said that it is not feasible because of the practices adopted by suppliers: in the US, companies have refused to separate out genetically modified soya from normal soya. 35 Conceptualisation/definition of the problem The issue at which the regulation is addressed is that of risk. Risk has been the defining conceptualisation of the problems posed by GMOs throughout the development of the regulation.

A Consultation Document Human Genetics Advisory Commission (HGAC) and Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA), (1998) Department of Health. 28 Kinderlerer and Longley Development of therapeutic agents The development of gene products which will be significant as therapeutic agents in other organisms (clotting factors in sheep's milk, or vaccines in plant products) is already important in the pharmaceutical industry. The use of products derived from human tissue is problematic because these may contain factors capable of infecting humans.

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