IEET > Interns > HealthLongevity
To the core of porcine matter: Evaluating arguments against producing transgenic pigs
An Ravelingien   Nov 9, 2004   Xenotransplantation  

Abstract The production of transgenic pigs for xenotransplantation is based on an urgent human need for transplantable organs. Although the particular genetic modifications are small and do not alter the organism phenotypically, several authors consider it morally problematic. This chapter attempts to establish whether there are genuine reasons to refrain from producing ‘humanized’ pigs for xenotransplantation. We distinguish two types of ethical arguments often confused in debating the matter: consequentialist and inherent arguments. Whereas the first type of argument pertains to the potentially negative effects of the procedure, the second type claims that genetic engineering of animals is ‘inherently’ wrong; that the action itself – regardless of the effects – is to be considered immoral. This chapter will focus on the latter claims, which can be categorized into several clusters of arguments: (a) arguments that focus on the so-called integrity of the genome, the organism and the species; (b) arguments expressing the belief that animals have a good of their own; and (c) arguments questioning the technological interference with the natural order. We will demonstrate that the claim that it is ‘inherently wrong’ to tinker with the genetic make-up of animals, is not self-evident and even hard to maintain having investigated the underlying presumptions. Sound resistance to producing transgenic pigs is restricted to concerns regarding the concrete effects of the applications.

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