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November 1993

Ethical Dilemmas in Molecular Genetics

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1993;119(11):1183-1186. doi:10.1001/archotol.1993.01880230025004

The field of molecular genetics presents a number of ethical questions similar to most new biomedical technologies.

About 5% of children born in the United States have genetic disorders. These abnormalities may result in a range of disabilities from mild cosmetic deformities to mental retardation to death. Molecular genetics and recombinant DNA technology may ameliorate these abnormalities, or even put an end to them. As a result, victims, the relatives of victims, and physicians have great interest in the science of genetic engineering.

Should there be limits on the information that can be investigated? What committee or confederation should be given the overall responsibility to investigate the information or to decide what information should be investigated? Once new data are generated, what portion of the information should be made available and to whom should it be made available? What are the ramifications of the newly generated data and what groups

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