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Implications of Genetic Engineering from a Jewish Perspective

31 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2004  

David Bleich

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law


Judaism accepts the thesis that man has been granted dominion over the created universe subject to an explicitly formulated set of restrictions. Thus, generally speaking, human intervention in the natural order is not interdicted. Crossbreeding of species is prohibited only to Jews and the prohibition is limited to causing copulation between animals of diverse species. Thus, genetic manipulation involving the introduction of a gene of one species into the genotype of an alien species is not encompassed in that restriction. Genetic manipulations does, however, have ramifications with regard to application of provisions of the dietary code when one or more gene of a prohibited species is introduced into the genotype of a member of a permitted species. In general, Jewish law would determine species identity on the basis of the dominant genotype. Nevertheless, in situations in which a physical characteristic of the forbidden species in recognizable, there are strong grounds pointing to the conclusion that an animal produced as a result of such genetic manipulation is to be regarded as nonkosher.

Suggested Citation

Bleich, David, Implications of Genetic Engineering from a Jewish Perspective. Tradition, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2004. Available at SSRN:

David Bleich (Contact Author)

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

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