Gene Therapy and Genetic Engineering in Judaism

Using genetic technology for therapeutic purposes is acceptable, but many related issues have yet to be addressed.

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To attempt to clone a human being is [according to most authorities] not legally prohibited in Judaism but is probably morally inappropriate. An example of the creation of an artificial human being or golem is cited in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 65b). The possible deleterious effects of genetic engi­neering and gene therapy are not yet fully known. Can such genetic manipulation unmask inactive cancer genes? Thus, in addition to the medical and scientific aspects of genetic engineering and DNA recombinant research, the spiritual and theological aspects also require exploration. Rabbis must examine these issues from the Jew­ish viewpoint and offer halakhic guidance to the medical and lay communities.

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Dr. Fred Rosner

Dr. Fred Rosner is Director of the Department of Medicine of the Mount Sinai Services at the Queens Hospital Center and Professor of Medicine at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.