The progress of science in the 20th and 21st centuries exploded, creating technologies that reshaped society and extended lives. The pace of change was so great that it took society years to start asking questions about the ethics or morality of new developments. Now, humanity is at a major crossroads, where further investment in biotechnologies could change the way humans live and reproduce. Here are ethical issues attached with biotechnology:
- the use of genetic information to create medicine contributes to the rising cost of drugs, and shifts attention away from designing affordable drugs available for mass production.
- Creation of designer babies by manipulating gene is another troublesome issue. Designer babies are children enhanced through gene manipulation to meet certain mental, physical, and emotional demands of parents. The technology does not yet exist to manipulate the entire genome of a fetus, but research continues along this path.
- Use of stem cells is one of the most controversial issue of biotechnology. 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 rising use of biotechnology, there is great pressure on the drug approval agency. This pressure of shortening the trial phase can remove the safeguards put in place to keep public safe.
- The opponents of Genetically modified organism argue that these organism actually put the entire food supply at risk through the homogenization of plant life and the death of biodiversity. They also argue that insects and plant-destroying bacteria or diseases will continue to evolve with the GMOs, resulting in super-pests and super-diseases that are untreatable by modern methods. Finally, doctors argue that GMOs include antibiotics that make their way into the human body. Overconsumption of antibiotics is harmful, because those drugs lose their ability to fight off disease.
- Biotechnology engineers and companies must find a way to address cost issues and make new advancements more affordable for the average consumer; otherwise, biotechnology will create a two-tiered society: those who can afford the medical treatments needed to live, and those who cannot.