Internal Research WiP: Dr Cesar Palacios Gonzalez

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Updated 5 January 2022

MRTs and Genealogical Obscurement

We hope to be able to offer the option of joining either in-person at Littlegate House (Suite 1 Seminar Room) or online via Zoom. If we are unable to hold in-person events, the seminar will take place online only.

Abstract: Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques (MRTs) are a new group of reproductive biotechnologies which can aid women whose eggs have deleteriously mutated mitochondria to have healthy genetically related children.  So far the main the ethical debate concerning MRTs has centred on the following topics: if MRTs affect numerical or qualitative identity; safety; possible transgenerational health risks; the disclosure of MRT conception; and the ethics of long-term follow-up. One issue that has not received enough attention is what impact MRTs could have on genealogical research. Specifically, if they can be detrimental for genealogical research via mtDNA. This is due to two facts. First, the mitochondria of a couple’s MRT-conceived children would come from the woman(en) who donated the eggs, and not from the intending mother. Second, the children of female MRT-conceived children would inherit such third-party mitochondria, which in turn would be transmitted via the maternal line. According to Françoise Baylis, the only philosopher who has engaged with this issue: “Mitochondrial replacement technology represents a potential threat to genealogical research using mtDNA analysis, as it would obscure the lines of individual descent, thereby providing a false or confusing picture”.(Baylis, 2013, p. 533) In this paper I defend, contra Baylis, that MRTs do not obscure lines of individual descent and thus that they are not detrimental for genealogical research.

This internal talk is for Oxford Uehiro Centre members and associates.

Joining via Zoom: Please email to request the Zoom links.

Booking for in-person attendance: RSVP. Please contact for booking link and password.