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‘Serious’ factor—a relevant starting point for further debate: a response
  1. Erika Kleiderman1,
  2. Vardit Ravitsky2,
  3. Bartha Maria Knoppers1
  1. 1 Centre of Genomics and Policy, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Erika Kleiderman, Centre of Genomics and Policy, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 0G4, Canada; erika.kleiderman{at}


In this reply, we wish to defend our original position and address several of the points raised by two excellent responses. The first response (De Miguel Beriain) questions the relevance of the notion of ‘serious’ within the context of human germline genome modification (HGGM). We argue that the ‘serious’ factor is relevant and that there is a need for medical and social lenses to delineate the limits of acceptability and initial permissible applications of HGGM. In this way, ‘serious’ acts as a starting point for further discussions and debates on the acceptability of the potential clinical translation of HGGM. Therefore, there is a pressing need to clarify its scope, from a regulatory perspective, so as to prevent individuals from using HGGM for non-therapeutic or enhancement purposes. The second response (Kalsi) criticizes the narrow interpretation of the objectivist approach and the apparent bias towards material innovations when discussing the right to benefit from scientific advancements. As an in-depth discussion of the objectivist and constructivist approaches was beyond the scope of our original paper, we chose to focus on one specific objectivist account, one which focuses on biological and scientific facts. We agree, however, with the critique that material innovations should not be the sole focus of the right to benefit from scientific advancements, which also incorporates freedom of scientific research and access to scientific knowledge scientific freedom and knowledge, including the influence of these on ethical thinking and cultures.

  • genetic engineering
  • enhancement
  • ethics
  • gene therapy/transfer

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  • Contributors All authors contributed equally to this response.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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