Ethics of Biotechnology
Recommended Year Level: Years 7 and 8 Required Knowledge: Little Duration: 30 minutes
Ethics are the rules or standards that govern the way people behave and their decisions on the 'right' thing to do. It asks basic questions about what is right and wrong, how we should act towards others and what we should do in specific situations.
It is important to note that ethics relating to biotechnology and its applications are not fundamentally different from other situations. Ethics are practiced by everyone, every day.
One common feature of ethics is that different people with different values often disagree on the 'right thing' for individuals and society. One reason for this disagreement is that one thing may benefit some people but not others.
An example is embryonic stem cell research. Some people see this as having great potential to develop cures for diseases. But, others object because it involves the destruction of human embryos that have the potential to become a human being.
There is no clear right or wrong position in ethics. A person's individual experience and view of the world often guides the way they make ethical choices.
For instance, someone who has a strong environmental outlook might see the use of genetically modified (GM) crops as unnatural. But, someone who has a strong scientific-based view of the world might see the use of GM crops as a natural extension of traditional crop breeding technologies.