The social, moral and ethical issues raised by nanotechnology in the field of medicine

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Journal Article

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Lupton, M. L. (2011). The social, moral and ethical issues raised by nanotechnology in the field of medicine. Medicine and Law: An international journal, 30 (2), 187-200.

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2011 HERDC submission. FoR code: 180122, 180114, 180119

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The areas in medicine that are and will be influenced by nanoscale science and technology are stem cell research, genetic modification of human beings and the construction of artificial organisms. A non-negotiable moral imperative is the fact that the law is under an obligation to uphold the sanctity and integrity of the human genome which encapsulates humankind's basic genetic inheritance and thereby the human heritage of our species. The research possibilities opened up by nanoscience will push the current boundaries of life forms, because they alter life forms at their most basic (viz genetic) level. They empower scientists to create novel life forms that would not otherwise exist and they combine aspects of different life forms that would not otherwise be integrated. These groundbreaking areas of research place the scientists and their work in an area of moral quicksands. Research involving human design and modification places those scientists in a domain where current morality indicates they do not belong. They are literally 'playing God'.

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This document has been peer reviewed.