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In vitro eugenics
  1. Robert Sparrow
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Sparrow, Philosophy Program, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia; robert.sparrow{at}monash.edu

Abstract

A series of recent scientific results suggest that, in the not-too-distant future, it will be possible to create viable human gametes from human stem cells. This paper discusses the potential of this technology to make possible what I call ‘in vitro eugenics’: the deliberate breeding of human beings in vitro by fusing sperm and egg derived from different stem-cell lines to create an embryo and then deriving new gametes from stem cells derived from that embryo. Repeated iterations of this process would allow scientists to proceed through multiple human generations in the laboratory. In vitro eugenics might be used to study the heredity of genetic disorders and to produce cell lines of a desired character for medical applications. More controversially, it might also function as a powerful technology of ‘human enhancement’ by allowing researchers to use all the techniques of selective breeding to produce individuals with a desired genotype.

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