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David B Resnik, Holly B Steinkraus and Pamela J Langer, Austin, Texas, R G Landes Company, 1999, 189 pages, US$99.00 (hb).
This book provides a worthwhile and challenging introduction to scientific and moral issues in germline gene therapy. It contains two parts, dealing with scientific and moral issues respectively. In the first, scientific part, a chapter on what the alternatives to germline therapy are is helpful, especially in pointing out that many of the goals one might want to achieve by using germline therapy may be achieved, at a slighter risk, by using non-genetic technologies such as selective embryo implantation and selective abortion. However, the authors argue that germline therapy may be an option in certain cases in which these alternatives are not viable (page 72).
In the second part of the book, moral and political issues in germline therapy are discussed, such as the distinction between therapy and enhancement, potential benefits and harms, rights and responsibilities, justice, our concept of humanness, and public policy issues.