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Ethical Concerns of Biotechnology

Mohammed Solaiman Haider Department of Environment haider@doe-bd.org # 01817116050

Philosophical study of moral values and rules Ethics (from the Ancient Greek thikos, the adjective of thos "custom, habit"), a major branch of philosophy, is the study of values and customs of a person or group Ethics covers the analysis and employment of concepts such as right and wrong, good and evil, and responsibility Ethics can usefully be defined as the branch of philosophy concerned with how we should decide what is Morally RIGHT or WRONG.

General Ethical Questions related to Applications of Modern Biotechnology

How to weigh the potential benefits against the possible costs/risks? Do the processes themselves constitute an Unnatural interference with Nature, particularly in breaching Natural Species Boundaries and violating the Integrity of Species? What is Ethically Wrong with Interfering with Nature? Do the processes involve the taking of ethically unjustifiable risks? From a religious viewpoint, is modern biotechnology to be interpreted as playing God or as collaborating in the on-going work of creation? Do these questions suggest any significant ethical differences between modern biotechnology and more traditional techniques?

3 criteria for an ethical conclusion

One can be most confident to make an ethical conclusion if the following criteria are realized: First, if the arguments that lead to the particular conclusion are supported by reason Second, if the arguments have been conducted within a well established ethical framework and Third, if a reasonable degree of consensus exists about the validity of the conclusions, arising from a process of democratic debate.

Ethical Concerns: Mythical sometimes!

Respect for life' implies that there should be no interference with it. Yet, Natural Genomic Plasticity exists in evolutionary living world. Ethical concerns arises while there is: Manipulations in the genomes of plants and animals Fabric of life'-an ethically questionable activity Creating human-animal embryos, hybrids or chimeras Implanting GM embryos Use of cell-nuclear-replacement (CNR) techniques to generate cloned human beings. Creation of a 'replacement person' Using genetic manipulation to produce 'designer babies' with qualities according to parental specification Persons are never to be commodified, ethically. Playing God--

Not considered as Ethical Concerns

Repair of damaged tissues in the ill or injured Heart transplants are as radically unnatural as gene transplants, but most people consider them to be ethically acceptable Doctors have been transplanting adult blood stem cells, in the form of bone marrow transplants, for many decades Ethical does not simply equate with the Natural or Moral What is ethical doesnt necessarily be moral or matter of religious, community or personal belief.

The Relaxin case

The Green Party opposed European patent 112.149 granted to the Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine for human H-2 relaxin, a hormone involved in reproduction, and a DNA sequence coding for the hormone.

The facts:
The m-RNA coding for the H-2 relaxin protein had been isolated from ovarian tissue removed in the treatment of an ectopic pregnancy.

Relaxin Case:-Opponents Arguments concerning Morality

(i) It was alleged that it is an offence against morals to exploit the pregnancy condition of a woman by removing tissue from her ovary and using it as the basis of a profit-oriented technical process

(ii) The use of the ovarian tissue for the purposes of the patent amounted to a form of slavery since it involved dismemberment of women and their piecemeal sale to commercial enterprises. This infringed the human right to self-determination (iii) To patent human genes meant that human life was being patented, which is intrinsically immoral.

Stem Cells: Full of potential

Stem cells from human embryos were only isolated and cultured in 1998 Stem cells unique properties, able to differentiate into the 300 or so different types of human cell The cells could potentially be cultured in the lab as an unlimited source of repair tissue for many ailments Humans might even one day regenerate missing parts, as newts (an amphibian) do! stem cells could be studied to provide insights into how human bodies develop from fertilised eggs Stem cells with genetic defects could further be used to understand how congenital diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, develop Stem cells might also be used to test new drugs in the lab on a range of tissues, instead of on people or animals.

Currently stem cells of both types are being tested to treat many conditions, including: Alzheimer's disease, blood disorders, blood loss, baldness, blindness, cystic fibrosis, deafness, diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, liver damage, lupus, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and stroke Stem cells have also been used to fight cancer, treat dogs and race horses, and provide tissue for human breast implants and replacement teeth

Potential Risks of SC
Stem cells could divide uncontrollably to form tumours called teratocarcinomas Stem cells might also become cancerous in the lab. The most significant hurdle to utilize stem cells is immune rejection. As with any tissue transplant (from a donor other than an identical twin), the body will recognize ESCs as foreign and mount an attack which could be fatal for the invidual. ESC recipients would have to take immune suppressant drugs for the rest of their lives.

Creating stem cells without use of human eggs/embryos

If the method can be perfected then it could quell the ethical debate troubling the field

Timeline of Stem Cell Research in US

Other alternative for Stem Cells

Many hundreds fresh human eggs are needed to generate a single stem-cell line. Donation rates are low (infertile women must increasingly go overseas for IVF) and few women will undergo a complicated, risky procedure for the sake of science. Dr. Minger's idea is to remove the genetic material from an animal egg so that it is just a shell and insert the DNA from a human cell. He says eggs could be taken from the ovaries of thousands of cows that are slaughtered every day If a cow egg is taken and the DNA is removed, an empty shell may be found that no longer has a species identity. A greater ability to generate stem cells that will be useful in trying to understand the basic disease mechanism behind catastrophic neurological disorders where we haven't been very good at developing therapies.

Ethical Decision Making Process

In Canada and many other countries throughout the world it is necessary to have in place guidelines that will demand that research done on human (or animal) subjects be carried out in the most professional and ethical way possible. These guidelines were adopted to ensure that research take into account accepted moral behavior and human dignity. These guidelines, in general cover the issues as follows: Respect for Human Dignity Respect for Free and Informed Consent Respect for Vulnerable Persons Respect for Privacy and Confidentiality Respect for Justice and Inclusiveness Balancing Harms and Benefits Minimizing Harm Maximizing Benefits

Legal framework on medical biotech research in Bangladesh

No regulatory framework in place Biosafety Guidelines mainly concentrated on Crop Biotechnology Biosafety and Biosecurity issues of any kind of modern biotechnology should come under wider legal regime Ethical concerns should be addressed with informed decision making on any introduction of new technology in Bangladesh Ensuring Public Participation through Education and awareness is important

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