Biomedicine and Law: mutual trust and perspectives

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Abstract


The publication raises issues of interaction of rapidly developing areas of bio-medicine and international legal standards, and national legislation of states. Attention is focused on the need for legal guarantees in the field of editing the genome of living organisms, in vitro fertilization, etc. It is proposed to form a uni-form attitude and establish the boundaries of what is permissible in the field of genetic practice so that the situation does not get out of the control of the human mind.


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Dear Readers! Here is an unusual issue of the RUDN Journal of LAW; it is a thematic issue and the first experience in the entire long history of the journal. The issue is devoted to the most complex and extremely important subject for the development of mankind - biomedicine and legal regulation. Scientific discoveries of biologists on the fundamental principle of the nature and origin of biological evolution (from ancient Greek βίος - life), allowed mankind to investigate the world of living organisms on Earth. A man has learned to unravel hereditary information about a living organism presented in the form of a certain combination of genes (ancient Greek γένος - genus). The genetic code determines the possible development of an organism's life and makes it unique. The achievement of geneticists has become a scientific breakthrough comparable to a man's flight into space. Today it is already possible to look into the events of evolutionary dynamics and find out the biological origins of the emergence of various nations, figure out hereditary diseases and learn about the undisclosed features of life forms that affect the behavior of all living beings, and their further progress. This applies to humans, animals, and plants, up to viruses with a non-cellular structure. Through the efforts of biologists from different parts of the world, it became possible to edit the genome of living organisms - the complete set of all genes and their sequence; by the way, one of the first organisms subjected to genetic modification were plants, animals, and fish, bred for agricultural purposes and suitable for consumption. The factors that prompted scientists to change the genotype of living organisms are the desire to make them resistant to diseases, create food products with a healing effect, for example, intended for people who are allergic to a particular food component or suffering from diabetes. Currently, tons of genetically modified soybeans, corn, beets, etc. are grown in the world. In 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui edited the human genome at the embryonic level to avoid contracting HIV infection from parents. The experiment on editing the human genome stunned the whole world and produced the effect of Hesiod's “Pandora's box”. Genetic editing of everything that has a biological origin has divided humanity on opposite sides of the barricades. Some believe that this is a blessing, and scientific progress is necessary for mankind in the modern life, others believe that interference with nature will lead to a catastrophe for all life on Earth. Representatives of religious confessions were the first to express their attitude to these issues; they looked at the situation from the point of view of the fundamental postulates of faith. Scientists-philosophers estimated the matter from ethical and moral standpoints. Lawyers have the most significant role, one might say planetary, - to act as a yardstick for difficult issues, to which humanity is not yet able to form a unified attitude and establish the boundaries of what is permissible in the field of genetic practice so that the situation does not get out of the control of the human mind and cause irreparable harm to the environment. The challenges of genetic editing of living organisms are related to the field of genetics and biomedicine; gene editing raises the issues of health, as well as genetics and biological existence of humans. Science has not yet developed a uniform scientific approach to the dynamics of medicine in the field of in vitro fertilization, euthanasia, etc. We are talking, which is extremely important, about the areas where a man encounters the natural development of the very life of mankind and such intervention can turn both a boon and a significant danger. And, it is the jurists, who, having weighed all the facts and taking into account the available experience, have to establish the legal boundaries to what is permitted and what is prohibited. The presented set of scientific articles makes, albeit small, but one of the first steps in understanding the above problems. The editors of the journal intend to continue preparation and publication of special materials on this and other topical issues. We are waiting for suggestions from readers.

About the authors

Oleg A. Yastrebov

Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Author for correspondence.
Email: yastrebov_oa@rudn.university
6 Miklukho-Maklaya str., Moscow, 117198, Russian Federation

Doctor of Legal Sciences, Doctor of Economic Sciences, Full Professor, Rector, Editor-in-chief of the RUDN Journal of law, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

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