April 20, 2024

Commercialisation a greater threat than God

Embryo debate more than a matter of science versus religion

Framing the UK’s debate over embryos in terms of religion versus science is a dangerous distraction from the more serious issue of commercialisation, writes Professor Donna Dickenson in the London Times. As a secular bioethicist, she resents being labelled either a Luddite or a God-botherer when she questions the merit of changing the law to benefit biotechnology companies.

"It’s not just the technology that’s changed since the 1980s; it’s also the economic environment in which science and medicine have to operate. We are living in an age when human organs, genes, eggs and other body parts are fast becoming commodities bought and sold on international markets: what I call ‘body shopping’. Our law lags behind: once tissue is taken from your body, it doesn’t legally belong to you. Instead, our common law views it as ‘no one’s thing’, or mere waste…

"By taking an uncritical approach to the market developments that this new bill should be regulating, some secularists are playing straight into the hands of a greater potential enemy to scientific progress than God. I’m referring to the increasingly powerful forces of commercialisation… Good science can’t be rushed, and the commercialisation of biotechnology needs proper examination. The problem is that parliament is too busy arguing about God to pay much attention."

Professor Dickenson pursues this line of argument in a book to be released this week, Body Shopping. ~ London Times, Apr 20