Ethics of Biotech by Brandon Aust

Biotechnology is an interesting topic in the fact that human technology has come so far that we are in a way “playing god.” The fact that we can argue over the ethics of bringing an extinct animal back to life is indeed very intriguing. I personally believe that if an animal is extinct, it must be so do to a certain reason—mainly this belief is a reflection of Darwinism. However, a lot of animals have become extinct due to human interaction, so I can see where an argument may come up. Also, bringing back animals that are extinct may help our further understanding of science and the world, so then again this argument makes sense if it will help the human race out in the long run. Because going back to the Darwinist point of view, is it wrong for the human race to use all its available tools in order to make it stronger and more knowledgeable for survival? This is a question that is very prevalent in biotechnology. The question of ethics is very important in technologies involving stem cell research. In order to use such technologies, humans must destroy human embryos, which brings about the ethical argument of when life actually begins—the questions that arise through abortion as well. It’s hard to come up with a true answer to these questions, not only because there are people on the two extreme viewpoints, but because there’s a certain desire to protect the lives of the young, but to also protect our own lives and learn more through the technologies the stem cells have to offer. It seems as though these technologies will not be fully tested upon unless scientists develop a way of collecting stem cells they can use without destroying a human embryo.

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One area in which biotechnology seems to make the most sense to me is in the application of biotechnology in agriculture. With this, it would be a lot easier to grow food, especially in areas that aren’t able to grow food at the moment. The food could be changed in order to grow in different climates so that areas that have poor food production could now have a convenient source of food. With agriculture in these third world areas, a more developed society would thus grow as well. So it seems that this would greatly aid many problems in the world. I’m not suggesting that this would fully end world hunger, but it would greatly help. It would also make the production of food in industrious countries cheaper and more efficient. Yet these technologies are not fully used to their best abilities since some people are scared to eat such foods. It goes back to a previous blog in which I stated that humans fear the unknown. These foods are unknown to a large group of human beings, so until they are proven to be safe, they cannot be fully utilized. Theirs is also a large growth in the desire for purely organic food, which harms this type of industry from fully developing.

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I think the largest thing that holds biotechnology back from fully developing is the scare of how powerful the human race can become.  By this I mean that these technologies; as stated before, makes the human race “god like.” For example, if we can create medicines that will increase our average life expectancy by say 50 years or even more, is this natural? Is this even a good thing? These types of questions are what our society is facing. As Uncle Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” It is up to the entire human race to decide what is a responsible way to use the tools that we have created and what we are capable of creating.

-Brandon Aust

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