Owning Genetic Information and Gene Enhancement Techniques: Why Privacy and Property Rights May Undermine Social Control of the Human Genome

Bioethics 14 (2):97-119 (2002)
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Abstract

In this article I argue that the proper subjects of intangible property claims include medical records, genetic profiles, and gene enhancement techniques. Coupled with a right to privacy these intangible property rights allow individuals a zone of control that will, in most cases, justifiably exclude governmental or societal invasions into private domains. I argue that the threshold for overriding privacy rights and intangible property rights is higher, in relation to genetic enhancement techniques and sensitive personal information, than is commonly suggested. Once the bar is raised, so‐to‐speak, the burden of overriding it is formidable. Thus many policy decisions that have been recently proposed or enacted – citywide audio and video surveillance, law enforcement DNA sweeps, genetic profiling, national bans on genetic testing and enhancement of humans, to name a few – will have to be backed by very strong arguments.

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Adam Moore
University of Washington

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