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Biotechnology, Ethics

Through the advancement of technology, scientists have been able to develop more precise and powerful tools to produce crops and animals with selected traits that aim to benefit farmers and consumers. Similar to other emerging technologies, biotechnology has instigated worldwide debate and confusion as a result of mixed messages from various people - be they scientists, academics, critics, industry, religious representatives or consumer bodies. The worldwide debate on the pros and cons of biotechnology have been likened to a battleground and a prominent place for virtually every ethical concern. It has stirred conflicting ideas and opinions and has polarized sectors not only among stakeholders but even between countries.

While agriculture has long been a topic of philosophical, religious and political reflection, it is only in the late 20th century that systematic thinking about the values and norms associated with the food system, such as farming, food processing, distribution, trade, and consumption, began to be discussed in the context of agricultural ethics (CAST, 2005). In addition, by placing biotechnology in the light of globalization, societal debate has moved towards a discussion of ethical and social impacts (Paula, 2001).

In 2000, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly recommended that it was increasingly important to include ethical considerations centered on humankind, society and the environment in deliberations regarding developments and applications in biotechnology, life sciences, and technology. A year later, the United Kingdom’s Royal Society Report asserted that “public debate about genetically modified food must take account of wider issues than the science alone” (Kinderlerer and Adcock, 2003).

What is agricultural ethics?

In general, ‘ethics’ is defined as the ideals, values or standards that people use to determine whether their actions are good or bad. It is what society uses to judge whether an issue or thing is acceptable and justifiable and determines responsibility and justice (Thompson, 2001). Ethics provide guidelines that help one decide what is the right thing to do.

Interesting facts
Patenting Proteomics: Patentability and Scope of Protection of Three-Dimensional Protein Structure Claims under German, European and US Law (Munich Intellectual Property Law Center - MIPLC)
Book (Nomos Publishers)
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