Legal experts believe that it would be helpful to introduce the term «substantially human».
The development of genetic technology is occurring at such a rapid pace that experts in biomedical law from Stanford and McGill University have proposed an extension to the definition of ‘human’. With the advent of increasingly advanced methods of genome editing and the emergence of other biotechnological areas such as xenotransplantation, there is a certain uncertainty.
In the near future, xenotransplantation technologies will make it possible to grow entire organs for transplantation into humans — inside the bodies of animals. Thus, the transplanted organ will not have human DNA.
What’s more, technologies such as CRISPR can significantly change the human genome itself.
In their article, the legal experts from Stanford indicate that the contemporary legal framework mostly references humans, and in some cases — their bodies and tissues.
The authors of the study believe that there is a need to revise many controversial issues. Can people who are born without cognitive functions be considered «human»? And what definition will be used for animal test subjects, when the majority of their organs are human from a genetic perspective?
The authors propose a new definition to resolve these ambiguities: «substantially human», which will be applied in a wider sense than the general definition of «human».
For example, if scientists manage to successfully conserve efficiency in an isolated brain while still maintaining its cognitive abilities, this system can be considered «substantially human».
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