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Biotechnology is science, and science comes with ethical issues, non-more so than Biotechnology. Needless to say it is regarded as controversial in some parts of the world where people think that things should be left as god created them and that god created them that way for a reason. On the other hand, other people see it as a great way to improve human health and the human environment.

Although there are limitless possibilities when you give biotechnology a good thought, it has been called and described as “Janus-faced”. Because even though it has the potential to be quite a helping hand in the many areas in which it is used. And then there are other possibilities in which we don’t know the consequences of and it might be wrong.

Where do we draw the thin line between science and religion and science and ethics. Some religious groups have given their blessing to Genetically Modified Foods, (GM) such as the Vatican, The Catholic Church and Indonesia’s leading authority in Islamic affairs. The Biotechnology Industry Organization recently

released a statement on ethical use of Biotechnology; to promote public health and natural security and to fight against bioterrorism. So basically the organizations which would like to continue with research have this point that they are trying to help human life and not create synthetic life as Christian Jorgensen, Genostem coordinator and inserm research put it “ we are not here to create synthetic life, I think we are here to be much more practical and to help actual patients using stemcells and improve the quality of life and be ethical in our choice of the cells we work on”1. Many people don’t look at it that way only , they look at it in the way that if a child is born deaf, why not treat him and provide him with a better life. Is it immoral to live longer and have a better life?

Speaking at a lecture in the University of Pennsylvania, Arthur Caplan, Director of Bioethics there put it in a different view for all to see: “ some years ago, I got a call from a doctor. There were two people in his office a man and a woman, both congenially deaf. A genetic form of deafness, they wanted to get genetic testing and the doctor said great you wont have to have a child with a miserable burden of deafness! They said no, no , no! We want a child who is deaf, we want you to sort out the embryos to make sure that you pick the one with the deafness gene cause we want a kid like us, and we don’t feel burdened or troubled by our deafness”2 so people tend to look at it in one way only.

So is it morally wrong to genetically engineer an organism, a plant, or a human being?

As you have seen in this magazine, Biotechnology is a magnificent technological advancement that has and will open many doors in the future, but it is also a large topic if debate over whether it is

completely ethical and a

humanitarian science application. In the name of many relegions, cultures and groups, genetic engineering, or messing with the “natural form” of god’s creations can be considered a forbidden door…

Each of the five sources of ethical standards will be used used to evaluate the ethical standards of biotechnology as a whole in order to conclude whether it should continue or not

The Utilitarian Approach : This approach basically favors the action which produces more good over harm. With biotechnology we can only assess the present and the past, the future is unknown and could produce either good or bad. So based on the past, Biotechnology has done more good then harm, and on the present also the same. Genetically modified food has helped people all around the world, specially people with no food or an amount par healthy standards. You can consider the

animals which undergo testing and animal rights etc.. but in the end this is all for a greater good. The good outbalances the bad.

The Rights Approach: This approach is all about respecting rights, whether it be human rights or animal rights, rights should be respected. So human rights are not broken here but there is an issue with animal testing, so any experiment involving animal testing is thought to be wrong. Other than that, everything is fine. The Fairness or Justice Approach: The Fairness or Justice Approach deems biotechnology wrong as it disregards several cultures and religions and more groups. This approach demands equality and biotechnology shows no signs of this. Which results in biotechnology being unethical according to the approach.

The Common Good Approach: Biotechnology unethical? This approach agrees. As it calls for the welfare of society but not at an expense of something or someone. Where we go back to the animals and animal testing.

The Virtue Approach: This is the biggest NO of all the approaches as biotechnology goes against everything this approach stands for. It is all about following virtues like honesty, integrity and fairness. None of the good virtues are followed in biotechnology.

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Is Biotechnology Unethical? Yes? No?

Quiz :

1. What is another name for DNA? 2. Which church approves of biotechnology? 3. What is the basis of biotechnology and life? 4. Biotechnology is the manipulation of.. ?

5. What is something that surrounds biotechnology?


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