South Korea may loosen legal restrictions to encourage more research into human gene therapy

In international bioethics news, South Korea might alter its bioethics law if lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea have their way. This law previously restricted human subject research on genetic alterations to those related to genetic diseases, cancer, AIDS, and disease without a viable non-genetic treatment option. The expansion would allow the scope of gene therapy research to include all diseases.

Under the expansion, if it’s not expressly prohibited, it’s legal. Previously, if it’s not expressly permitted, it’s presumed to be illegal.

This IJFAB Blog editor notes an interesting conceptual parallel here to alternatives¬† for organ donation: opt in which assumes people don’t want it unless they expressly state that they do vs. opt out which assumes that people do want it unless they expressly state that they do not.

Which sort of system is the best, ethically, for high stakes ethical issues? Are there disanalogies here between organ donation and expanded gene therapy research? Food for thought.


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