Draw connections between the ethical challenges of biotechnology and ethical issues related to abortion, animal welfare, and personal privacy.
There are a variety of ethical challenges of biotechnology and the premise for these challenges is a tension between valuing our freedom to pursue these technologies for their immediate utility or potential negative impacts of these technologies in long term – including moral questions and consequences of risk of playing God using such technologies.
As far as abortion is concerned, the key ethical issue arising out of biotechnology is of intended embryo destruction to carry out some experiments. For example, opponents of biotechnology assert that creating new lines from embryonic stem cells is akin to abortion, and the destruction of any embryo for research purposes is an ethical violation.
With respect to animal welfare, the key ethical issue is use of animals in genetic engineering to produce GMOs. For example, generation of a new genetically engineered line of animals would often involve sacrifice of some animals and surgical procedures (for example, vasectomy, surgical embryo transfer) on others. The animals sometimes undergo painful procedures and ultimate death. Further, most of the embryos that undergo genetic engineering procedures do not survive, and of those that do survive only a small proportion (between 1% to 30%) carry the genetic alteration of interest. Thus, a large numbers of animals are produced to obtain genetically engineered animals that are of scientific value. This contradicts efforts to minimize animal use.
With respect to personal privacy, it is a growing challenge, thanks to biotechnology that is making it possible to decode the human genome. Various issues around genome and dna profiling are directly linked to both modern day technologies.
E-Book: 095 - Ethics and Human Interface
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