Just Genes
The Ethics of Genetic Technologies
by Carol Isaacson Barash
December 2007, 288pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-34900-3
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-313-34901-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Considers the ethical concerns and debates raised by the application of various types of genetic technologies.

Advances in genetics research, largely, though not entirely, spawned by the Human Genome Project, have led to a broad array of new technologies that promise to revolutionize life as we have known it. Medicine and agriculture are already starting to utilize new technologies to greatly improve disease prevention and treatment and food production. Yet, these improvements often raise ethical questions that are not easy to untangle. Some have gone as far to as to argue that certain applications, such as embryonic stem cell research, threaten the very fiber of our moral compass. While the application of scientific advances to better humankind has always raised thorny ethical issues, the ethical impact of genetic advances arguably reaches a new height because the applicability of advances is exceptionally broad, deep, and potentially irreversible. To utilize such technologies could mean saving thousands of lives, but where and how do we draw the line?

Here, Barash sheds light on the actual ethical concerns surrounding various types of genetic technologies, introducing readers to the competing issues at stake in the arguments about the scientific application of the new technologies available and those on the horizon. She begins by illustrating the history of genetic advances, their societal applications, and the ethical issues that have arisen from those applications. Using case studies and examples throughout, she walks readers through the various considerations involved in a variety of areas related to the application of genetic technologies currently available and possible in the future. Covering topics ranging from stem cell research to genetically modified food, genetic mapping to cloning, this book offers a thoughtful approach to the complex issues at play in the various fields of genetic technologies.


"Barash (independent consultant) addresses important topics including cloning, genetic modification of foods, metabolism of drugs, privacy, genes and behavior, and tissue banks in this thought-provoking book. She raises questions that most students will not have considered, e.g., the rightness of pursuing the Human Genome Project for possible medical benefits when millions of US citizens have no health insurance, and the most important ethical issues associated with animal cloning. Barash does not prescribe answers, but points out the complexities of the questions....Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty."—Choice, June 1, 2008

"Genetics is at the forefront of medicine today and also at the forefront of ethical and political controversy. Carol Barash is uniquely positioned to explore this moment of prospect and dilemma, because of her training as a philosopher and her lifetime of work in the field of genetic consulting. Barash's instincts for moral dilemma are as acute as her clarity about scientific advance, making this a textbook for students of genetics, but also for the wide berth of learners from the humanities and social sciences wishing to understand where this crucial science stands, and to think about its human costs and benefits."—Daniel Herwitz, PhD, Director, Institute for the Humanities, Mary Fair Croushore, Professor of Humanites, University of Michigan

"The genetics revolution links complex science to decisions that are both momentous and yet quotidian: Whom to tell or treat or warn? When? How much? But for too long we have lacked a comprehensive and accessible account of the ethical issues raised by such decisions--a pity, since ordinary patients, clinicians, scientists and policymakers will need to make these decisions, whether they want to or not. Dr. Barash's book therefore comes as a sorely needed unguent: A smart, readable and thorough account of some of civilization's most interesting and important ethical issues."—Kenneth W. Goodman, Ph.D., Director, University of Miami Bioethics Program

"Dr. Barash has provided a cogent work that will be beneficial to the variety of audiences living in a world rife with the application of genetic technology and its implications. The end-of-chapter exercises will be particularly useful in courses dealing with ethical issues in biology. A must read for people who want to be truly informed."—Ann Kindfield, Ph.D., Peabody College, Vanderbilt University

"By presenting the competing principles that make decision-making difficult for all of us, Just Genes provides the reader with much to think about regarding the ethics of genetics. Whether the reader is a student, ethicist, geneticist, or member of the general public, the format of the book will appeal to one and all. The exercises are especially interesting and provide a great tool to explore ones ideas about many different ethical issues, as well as to serve as discussion tools for a class. Everyone should read Just Genes to help guide them through these difficult issues in these very interesting of times."—Vicky Holets Whittemore, Ph.D., Vice President & Director of Science, Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance

"Barash uses catchy titles but don't let this fool you into thinking this is not a heavyweight, well-scaffolded introduction to the key issues. Each chapter cuts to the heart of the issues, and challenges the reader to think critically about the competing ethical principles and values. The exercises for each issue help the reader dig in further and could be used by instructors to frame discussions or gauge students' growing ethical reasoning."—Hilarie Davis, Ed.D., Technology for Learning Consortium Inc.
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