Bioethics and Biotechnology
O'Mathúna, Dónal P
Cytotechnology 2007 Apr; 53(1-3): 113-9
Biotechnology is at the intersection of science and ethics. Technological developments are shaped by an ethical vision, which in turn is shaped by available technology. Much in biotechnology can be celebrated for how it benefits humanity. But technology can have a darker side. Biotechnology can produce unanticipated consequences that cause harm or dehumanise people. The ethical implications of proposed developments must be carefully examined. The ethical assessment of new technologies, including biotechnology, requires a different approach to ethics. Changes are necessary because new technology can have a more profound impact on the world; because of limitations with a rights-based approach to ethics; because of the importance and difficulty of predicting consequences; and because biotechnology now manipulates humans themselves. The ethical questions raised by biotechnology are of a very different nature. Given the potential to profoundly change the future course of humanity, such questions require careful consideration. Rather than focussing on rights and freedoms, wisdom is needed to articulate our responsibilities towards nature and others, including future generations. The power and potential of biotechnology demands caution to ensure ethical progress.
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