The use of biotechnology raises several ethical questions. Biotechnology, involving living systems to make products, or technological application that uses biological systems to make or modify products for specific use, has been used by humans for thousands of years, yet, the gengre has during the last century and the beginning of this century been expanded to included several new disciplines and sciences, for example, diagnostic tests and pharmaceutical therapies. Today our daily life is often insepable from technology and our lives would be very different without biotechonlogies.
Rather than seeing biotechnology as either bad or good, it is important to explore risks as well as possibilities. We should consider aspects such as the personal and social impacts of biotechnology, its potential impacts on our values and our relationships, if a particular application of biotechnology protects or endangers human or individual rights, and if the benefits and burdens distributed fairly.
Some ethical questions regarding biotechnology.
- It will be possible to know that a 6-year-old may develop serious heart complications later in life. The question now is whether a prospective employer has the right to know about this. How will this knowledge impact the person’s ability to get a job, mortgage, or insurance? Should such confidential information be made available to others? This is a sharp problem and is destined to get only sharper.
- Randy Vogenberg, PhD, at Aon Consulting, asks if a genetic test of a patient comes back positive, with the biologic treatment costing $1 million, will an insurer cover the cost?
- What happens when a patient cannot afford the extra expenses of a given treatment?
- What happens when a patient on a pricey chronic therapy maxes out his insurance benefits?
- What if an insurer avoids adding a biotech drug to its formulary only because of its acquisition cost?
- Besides the old controversy of cloning genes being sacrilegious, many ethical questions stem on the suitableness of licensing genetic inventions and many other IP issues.
- The development of genes from scratch translate to the fact that at some point in time we might be able to create life from a chemical soup, which will go against the religious or ethical beliefs of a sizeable number of people.
- Genome editing, especially when it is performed on people, will always carry ethical questions. However, the concept biotechology does no longer included DNA editing, it is callled CRISPR.