Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives

By Bartha Maria Knoppers | Go to book overview

Discrimination

Moussa Charafeddine

Chairperson of the Committee on Arab Affairs at Inclusion International


Introduction

Over the last decade we have experienced very rapid development in research and scientific discovery resulting from the Human Genome project. As stated by James Watson (Nobel laureate): “I see an extraordinary potential for human betterment ahead of us, the time to act is now.”

In the words of Walter Gilbert (Nobel laureate): “…the Human Genome Project is a Quest for the Holy Grail of Biology.” Parallel to these developments, other tendencies in the context of human values were evolving towards the creation of new models to shape modern social images. Social Image, is the way in which people with disability are perceived by others.

This was done through the setting of standards and criterion in terms of physical beauty, physical powers, self-reliance, and productivity. Research in the fields of eugenics1 and cloning are becoming topical issues into the 3rd millennium.

This will create an obstacle to diversity as ability, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, shyness, aggression, mortality, substance abuse, and learning disabilities will be genetically correlated and assigned biologically. In other words, reducing people to their DNA codes. The human embryo is merely a consumer object and a product of conception. According to this construct, disability is an individual pathology rather than a societal image. Persons with disabilities and their families are nonetheless experiencing increasing social and cultural barriers in addition to their complex array of health problems. It is obvious that genetic engineering is not value free, it is

Bartha Maria Knoppers (ed.), Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives. ©2003 Koninklijke Brill NV. Printed in the Netherlands.

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