Protection of the human genome by the Council of Europe (April 2001; report adopted by the Committee on Science and Technology; Rapporteur: Mr Martelli ; Doc. 8901). Reply from the Committee of Ministers (12 June 2002; Doc. 9493) Recommendation 1512 (2001)
The recent spate of rapid development in the field of molecular genetics has led to a rapid precipitation of issues surrounding biotechnology and genetics, some of which may pose a serious threat to the ecological balance of our environment, but above all, to the dignity of the human person. For the first time since the existence of man, it is now possible for him to read and re-write the information regarding the physical characteristics (phenotype) which constitute the essence of any living creature from microbes to man. This information is encoded within a specific chemical (DNA) which constitute several genes, together making up the genome or genotype of that particular organism. The genotype of a particular organism is converted into the phenotype by a process of biochemical “reading” of the genotype which then translates into a structured protein synthesis resulting in a particular physical being. Since evolution has been shared by all living organism, one finds a high degree of compliance between the genetic information of all living things, even between animals and plants. The percentage difference between the genome of a human person and that of a chimpanzee is less than 1.5%! Since man is biologically considered as an animal, the human genome, like that of other organisms, may be subjected to the same changes and manipulations as other living creatures, through the intricate changes of the chemicals making up the genome, via biochemical molecular processes. This allows the human genome to be read and also to be altered, opening up several problems in the fields of ethics and human rights.
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Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE) (CoE)