Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
AJOB Prim Res. 2012 Jul 1;3(3):12-20. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

Ethical Discourse about the Modification of Food for Therapeutic Purposes: How Patients with Gastrointestinal Diseases View the Good, the Bad, and the Healthy.

Author information

  • 1Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Researchers have the potential to utilize genetic modification (GM) technologies to create a hybrid of "food" and "medicine" that may challenge traditional understandings of what is "natural". Moral and ethical concerns are likely to arise in any discussion of these therapeutic foods and will affect the integration of products into clinical care and daily life. This study examined how patients with chronic gastrointestinal (GI) diseases view probiotics as future bioengineered therapeutic foods.

METHODS:

A multi-site qualitative study consisting of focus groups with chronic GI diseases was conducted at Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins University RESULTS: We conducted twenty-two focus groups with 136 patients with major GI diseases between March and August 2009. GI patients associated the term "natural" with concepts of diminished risk and morally "good"; conversely, patients associated the term "unnatural" with things that are "risky," "foreign", and morally "bad". Readily available unmodified probiotics were more commonly described as "natural" while genetically modified probiotics were more commonly labeled as "unnatural" and "risky". However, patients acknowledged that not all natural products are safe, nor are unnatural products always harmful.

CONCLUSIONS:

If GI patient perspectives are indicative of public perceptions of therapeutic foods, our findings suggest that the potential benefits and risks of clinical and public health initiatives employing therapeutic foods will be understood in moralistic terms. Bioethicists and others should be sensitive to the implicit normative appeals that are often embedded in the language of what is "natural" and "unnatural".

PMID:
22773953
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3389757
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk