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Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

ISSN Print: 2151-805X
ISSN Online: 2151-8068

Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

DOI: 10.1615/EthicsBiologyEngMed.2015013354
pages 17-25

The Ethics of Pharming: Engineering Design at the Genetic Level

Abidemi O. Ologunde
Department of Electrical Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA
Oyinlola O. Adeyanju
College of Pharmacy, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA

ABSTRACT

"Pharming" is a branch of genetic engineering where plants or animals are genetically engineered to produce pharmaceutical proteins. It is hoped that pharming may lead to better or cheaper drugs; however, questions remain with regard to environmental and pharmacological safety, welfare of pharming animals, legal regulation of pharming, societal concerns, and moral evaluation. It has been argued that the classification of engineering designs affects the ethical considerations and amount of social responsibility ascribed to design engineers. In the same vein, the authors of this paper address the ethical questions surrounding pharming, by regarding it as a form of engineering design albeit at the genetic level. This consequently raises ethical concerns and social responsibility issues for the "engineers" involved in this branch of genetic engineering. Recommendations are then proposed and future trends in research are discussed.