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Quandary

Quandary column

Should Olympic athletes be allowed to use performance-enhancing drugs?

By Michael Cook

Some bioethicists are arguing that athletes should be allowed to take performance-enhancing drugs.

The London Olympics have arrived and with them come familiar controversies over drug cheats. IOC President Jacques Rogge said yesterday that tests had identified more than 100 cheats in the lead-up to the Games. Years of tough restrictions appear to be bearing fruit, with fewer scandals every time the Olympics are held. In Athens in 2004 26 athletes were caught; in Beijing in 2008, only 14 athletes and 6 horses.

Cracks in the Edifice of Science

By Michael Cook

A tenfold increase in the number of retractions over the past 10 years raises questions about the infallibility of peer review of scientific research.

Michael Cook is editor of the bioethics website BioEdge.

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Is It Better Never to Have Been Born?

By Michael Cook

Bioethicists are questioning legal judgements that dismiss “wrongful birth” cases by challenging the belief that it is better to be born than not born.

Michael Cook is editor of the online bioethics news service, BioEdge.

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Eugenics Tackles Climate Change

By Michael Cook

Can a proposal to genetically modify children that are smaller to reduce their carbon footprint be taken seriously?

Michael Cook is editor of the online bioethics news service BioEdge.

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Jagged Little Pill

By Michael Cook

If a morality pill can induce moral behaviour, what could governments do with an “immorality pill” to control its citizens, law enforcers and soldiers?

Michael Cook is editor of the bioethics newsletter BioEdge.

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The Bioethics of Geoengineering

By Michael Cook

Ethical guidelines are urgent when considering high-risk technologies to avert the climate crisis.

Michael Cook is editor of the internet bioethics newsletter BioEdge.

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Is the End Coming for Embryonic Stem Cells?

By Michael Cook

Embryonic stem cell research is looking increasingly like a dead end as clinical trials are cancelled in favour of adult stem cells.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge, an internet newsletter about bioethics.

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A Hard Sell for European Scientists

By Michael Cook

A milestone case in the European Court of Justice sheds light on opposition to human embryo research.

Michael Cook is editor of the internet bioethics newsletter BioEdge.

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America’s Bioethics Shame

By Michael Cook

President Obama’s bioethics commission finds that US experiments in post-war Guatamala turned a blind eye to ethical concerns.

For the past year it has been bioethical bow, scrape and grovel time in Washington DC. After learning that American public health researchers had infected hundreds of Guatemalans with venereal diseases between 1946 and 1948, President Obama had to telephone his Guatemalan counterpart to apologise. He then set up a commission to investigate the appalling story of coercion and deception. A detailed historical report was published on 13 September.

Stem Cell Tourism

By Michael Cook

Can a quick trip overseas for stem cell therapy really cure your diabetes and hair loss?

Google “stem cell cures” and the first entry will be a site that promises a “Breakthrough Treatment For Wide Range Of Medical Reasons”. It is a link to the Stem Cell Rejuvenation Center in Phoenix, Arizona, offering “cutting-edge procedures in adipose stem cell therapy”. In other words, they extract stem cells from your own fat and use them to cure… what exactly? It’s not clear, although a list of dozens of conditions on the home page, from autism to kidney failure to torn ligaments, suggests that miracles are happening every day.