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The Ethics Surrounding Biotechnology and Organ Market


Advancement and improvement in technology have led to great impacts in various emerging scientific disciplines, Biotech healthcare not being an exception. Defining ethical boundaries in Biotechnology is an issue of great concern that is currently and will influence various sectors shortly (Drahos, 1999). With the rapidly increasing medical technology, new treatments and other innovations increase almost quickly. However, the advances are accompanied by scientific, financial and, most importantly, ethical/moral dilemmas, placing health policy in vastly different viewpoints and battles. Assessing the ethical conundrums of the organ market and circumstances under which commercialization of the organs is permissible is an important subject worth consideration, more so in the 21st century.

The selling of human organs is a vexing ethical issue that is a common conundrum worldwide. The realities accelerate the organ sale brought out by vital organ failure, which claims the life span and ultimately may lead to death (Brodwin, 2000). Unsurprisingly, there is an increasing rate of interest in human organs and the growth of this market to ensure that patients having any form of organ failure can have them for transplant at any point and increase their chances of survival. Kidney transplant, for instance, is on the rise to mitigate the shortage of kidney supply, and it is therefore legally interdicted in most parts of the world. However, there are concerns regarding the moral propriety of allowing people to sell their kidneys in the regulated market. The debate about vending human organs has surreptitiously raised the attention and concerns of bioethics, medical practitioners and public policy experts due to the assumptions towards moral principles (Fitzgerald & Park, 2022). This incandescent dispute and dilemma further make the subject of the human organ market versus the ethics worth studying by medical and science students, instilling knowledge to biotechnology learners and health practitioners about the bioethics of human organ sale is important, especially in the 21st century.

Societal Concerns with Biotechnology and Necessity of Regulations

Ethical issues surrounding biotechnology involve human organ sales and using humans as clinical trial objects (Guan, 2019). In efforts to combat illnesses, mostly in a situation where there is no exact cure, humans will be trial victims. The key ethical issue is how these human specimens are protected, especially when medical practitioners and scientists are unsure of the medications’ results and most likely side effects. Besides the cloning of genes, an old-age debate that has existed for some time, there are innumerable ethical concerns over the appropriateness and significance of licensing genetic inventions, among other issues such as market policies for human organs.

Ethical Issues of Biotechnology

Among Bioethics concerns are the patient’s privacy. Technology advancements have improved the medical sector such that the human genome can readily be decoded. However, scientists being exposed to an individual’s genetic composition, there is a likelihood of compromising their genetic information and the patient’s future health will be at stake. The ability to access an individual’s genetic composition gradually accelerates enormous and unseen problems (Polkinghorne, 2000). For instance, should that information be available to future employers or insurers after a medical practitioner finds out that an infant is likely to develop an incurable disease in later life? Such incidents place the practitioners in a dilemma, and the patient’s privacy is likely to be distorted, and hence their later lives may have complications.

The Ethics of Organ Sale

Organ transplantation is a profoundly inconvertible procedure involving the removal and placement of human organs from one person to the other to replace a malfunctioning organ to prolong an individual’s life. The beneficiaries of organ transplants that were probably in their end-stages of conditions such as renal disease tend to respond positively, unlike those undergoing haemodialysis (Abouna, 2003). However, a fundamental conundrum of this procedure is that in the phase of shortage of organs for transplantation, the whole process turns into a business in the name of donor consent. Unless an individual retracts their consent to donation, everyone is a potential donor. Organ transplant is presumed to be an expensive procedure. Therefore, some scientists and medical practitioners tend to engage in unethical and business behaviours where, after the death of anyone, they sell some of the organs from the deceased without the knowledge of their kin.

Biotechnology Regulatory system

Biotechnology is a subject of various risks, as outlined above; therefore, a proper analysis of products and systems used in this arena is noble (Fonseca & Caeiro, 2021). Even though the biotechnology industry is under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, various companies tend to need help to comply with its provisions. In the health industry, biotechnology regulations protect healthcare consumers from possible risks posed to them by either scientists or medical practitioners. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) states that patients’ genetic information should be highly protected (Evans, 2019). Further, the Act prohibits insurers and health plans from using a patient’s genetic information to make decisions, especially about health coverage. In addition, employers are prohibited from hiring employees based on their genetic information (Hossain et al., 2019). For example, an insurance firm is not permitted to cancel the health policies of an individual with a fifty per cent chance of survival according to their genetic profile.


Biotechnology ethics involves the aspect of medical ethics, studying and analyzing the balance between the benefits, risks, harms and duties; they apply to patients, scientists and healthcare practitioners. Bioethics is an important subject as it applies throughout an individual’s life, from birth to the end of their life. This topic is fundamental as it provides a blended mode of scientific and humanistic aspects that are primary to medical ethics. The subject’s significance is that it replicates in various divisions involving human life, for instance, confidentiality, privacy, fidelity and veracity.


Fonseca, V., & Caeiro, J. (2021). Bioethics and healthcare policies. The benefit of using genetic tests of BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 in elderly patients. The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 36(1), 18-29.

Evans, B. J. (2019). The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act at age 10: GINA’s controversial assertion that data transparency protects the privacy and civil rights. William and Mary law review, 60(6), 2017.

Guan, J. (2019). Artificial intelligence in healthcare and medicine: promises, ethical challenges and governance. Chinese Medical Sciences Journal, 34(2), 76-83.

Fitzgerald, R., & Park, J. (2022). Biotechnologies of Care. A Companion to Medical Anthropology, 358-372.

Brodwin, P. (Ed.). (2000). Biotechnology and Culture: Bodies, anxieties, ethics (Vol. 25). Indiana University Press.

Abouna, G. M. (2003). Ethical issues in organ transplantation. Medical Principles and Practice, 12(1), 54-69.

Polkinghorne, J. C. (2000). Ethical issues in biotechnology. Trends in Biotechnology, 18(1), 8-10.

Nurunnabi, A. S. M., Mozaffor, M., Tabassum, M., Saikat, T. R., Kabir, N., & Hossain, M. A. (2019). Societal Concerns with Biotechnology and Necessity of Regulations. Bangladesh Journal of Bioethics, 10(2), 7-13.

Drahos, P. (1999). Biotechnology patents, markets and morality. European Intellectual Property Review, 21(9), 441-449.


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