Opinions of Japanese Life Scientists on Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Behavioral Genetics. J. Higashijima1, K. Kato1,2, K. Takahashi1 1) School of Biostudies, Kyoto university, Japan; 2) Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, Japan.
With recent progress in the life sciences, especially in genome sciences, behavioural genetics related research has come into a new phase, being able to elucidate human nature from genetic information. Historically, behavioural genetics has not only been important in the academic world but also dramatically influenced society, with respect to its close relationship to eugenic social policies. This is why it is particularly significant to tackle research on the Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues (ELSI) of behavioural genetics along with and/or in anticipation of its progress. Then what are the ELSI resulting from behavioural genetics now, and in the future? The problem is that existing controversial issues in behavioural genetics are hindering the formation of general consensus for its reliability and/or interpretation of scientific conclusions of bahavioural genetics. Though there have been some discussions about the ELSI of behavioural genetics in some journals, most of them do not reflect a variety of opinions amongst the basic researchers in the life sciences. In this study, we interviewed 64 Japanese front-line life scientists in basic research to clarify both the heterogeneity and homogeneity of their opinions about putatively hot topics in behavioural genetics related research, especially about higher-brain function related issues within the global context of emphasis on the relationship between science and society. Most respondents agreed with the existence of the potential implications in behavioural genetics related research. They also agreed with the necessity of more global discussions or judgments in/from society about related topics. It seems necessary to consider practical border line to distinct genetic therapy and genetic enhancement in cognitive ability. Moreover, it is strongly suggested to form better relationship between scientists and mass-media to improve the quality of scientific information to the society, and to enrich the social discussion about the ELSI in behavioural genetics.