Canada Health Alliance

Genetic Warfare: Super Humans and the Law

Morial Shah

Every technology we develop carries potential for great good or harm. But the question of whether we can or should effectively stop that technology from being used for hostile purposes or armed conflict remains moot.

… Legal regimes governing the use of such technologies – the Biological Weapons Convention, the Oviedo Convention of the European Union, Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, and others – inadequately address challenges emerging from the use of new genetic technologies.

Currently, no global legal regime has enforcement or adjudication mechanisms to address concerns related to the spread and use of genetically modified bioweapons or super soldiers.

This paper explores legal and ethical challenges emanating from the development of genetic enhancement technology. Part I explores the dual-use dilemma and relevant advancements in gene technology. Part II examines super soldiers and other applications of enhancement technology. Part III provides an overview of relevant legal regimes and ethical concerns. In conclusion, this paper provides options for regulating the spread and use of this technology.

History demonstrates that revolutions of the wheel of technological advancement cannot be undone. Genome editing and related technologies have appeared on the horizon. We may try to regulate their use, but we cannot undo their existence. The present challenge consists in agreeing upon whether, when and how to regulate these technologies. For debates on regulation, we may have to agree on what truly makes us human and how much we want to tamper with our own genetic inheritance. The future is already here. Concerns surrounding its even distribution and fair use create space for legal intervention and ethical debate.

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