Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Defusing the legal and ethical minefield of epigenetic applications in the military, defense, and security context


Dalpé, Gratien; Huerne, Katherine; Dupras, Charles; Cheung, Katherine; Palmour, Nicole; Winkler, Eva; Alex, Karla; Mehlman, Maxwell; Holloway, John W; Bunnik, Eline; König, Harald; Mansuy, Isabelle M; Rots, Marianne G; Erwin, Cheryl; Erler, Alexandre; Libertini, Emanuele; Joly, Yann (2023). Defusing the legal and ethical minefield of epigenetic applications in the military, defense, and security context. Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 10(2):lsad034.

Abstract

Epigenetic research has brought several important technological achievements, including identifying epigenetic clocks and signatures, and developing epigenetic editing. The potential military applications of such technologies we discuss are stratifying soldiers’ health, exposure to trauma using epigenetic testing, information about biological clocks, confirming child soldiers’ minor status using epigenetic clocks, and inducing epigenetic modifications in soldiers. These uses could become a reality. This article presents a comprehensive literature review, and analysis by interdisciplinary experts of the scientific, legal, ethical, and societal issues surrounding epigenetics and the military. Notwithstanding the potential benefit from these applications, our findings indicate that the current lack of scientific validation for epigenetic technologies suggests a careful scientific review and the establishment of a robust governance framework before consideration for use in the military. In this article, we highlight general concerns about the application of epigenetic technologies in the military context, especially discrimination and data privacy issues if soldiers are used as research subjects. We also highlight the potential of epigenetic clocks to support child soldiers’ rights and ethical questions about using epigenetic engineering for soldiers’ enhancement and conclude with considerations for an ethical framework for epigenetic applications in the military, defense, and security contexts.

Abstract

Epigenetic research has brought several important technological achievements, including identifying epigenetic clocks and signatures, and developing epigenetic editing. The potential military applications of such technologies we discuss are stratifying soldiers’ health, exposure to trauma using epigenetic testing, information about biological clocks, confirming child soldiers’ minor status using epigenetic clocks, and inducing epigenetic modifications in soldiers. These uses could become a reality. This article presents a comprehensive literature review, and analysis by interdisciplinary experts of the scientific, legal, ethical, and societal issues surrounding epigenetics and the military. Notwithstanding the potential benefit from these applications, our findings indicate that the current lack of scientific validation for epigenetic technologies suggests a careful scientific review and the establishment of a robust governance framework before consideration for use in the military. In this article, we highlight general concerns about the application of epigenetic technologies in the military context, especially discrimination and data privacy issues if soldiers are used as research subjects. We also highlight the potential of epigenetic clocks to support child soldiers’ rights and ethical questions about using epigenetic engineering for soldiers’ enhancement and conclude with considerations for an ethical framework for epigenetic applications in the military, defense, and security contexts.

Statistics

Citations

Altmetrics

Downloads

2 downloads since deposited on 16 Jan 2024
2 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Brain Research Institute
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Medicine (miscellaneous)
Life Sciences > Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
Social Sciences & Humanities > Law
Uncontrolled Keywords:Law, Biochemistry; Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous); Medicine (miscellaneous); bioethics; child soldiers; epigenetic clocks and signatures; epigenetic editing; genetic discrimination; military research
Language:English
Date:13 December 2023
Deposited On:16 Jan 2024 13:38
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 01:37
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:2053-9711
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/jlb/lsad034
PubMed ID:38098975
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)