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Med Health Care Philos. 2009 Aug;12(3):273-80. doi: 10.1007/s11019-008-9178-3. Epub 2009 Jan 13.

The ethical and political evaluation of biotechnology strategies.

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Department of Philosophy, University of Turku, 20014, Turku, Finland.


In this paper I will briefly discuss the role and function of the ethical advisory committees and other ethics bodies that are supposed to take care of the ethical dimension of the biotechnology strategies. The expert ethical advice has created colourful discussion in many contexts, but here I aim to analyze the role and relevance of ethical expertise in the context of national and regional biotechnology strategies. I will argue that it may be quite unproblematic that the work of the ethics committees and other governmental and semi-governmental ethics bodies concerns only a relatively narrow range of issues and do not directly concern all the important social and economic realignments that accompany biotechnology. Many important decisions concerning national and regional biotechnology strategies are political, and typically ethics committees can be only indirectly useful in political decision-making. The committees should be free to refrain from extending their work to the areas where they are not already involved. However, the ethics committees and other ethics bodies can promote public debate that forms the basis for political decision-making.

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