Cross-Cultural Issues in Bioethics: The Example of Human Cloning

By Heiner Roetz | Go to book overview

The Charm of Biotechnology: Human Cloning and
Hindu Bioethics in Perspective

Heinz Werner Wessler

Abstract: India is proud of its fast growing pharma industry, which in-
vests heavily in biotechnological research. The biotechnology sector is
commercially successful and highly competitive. Private concerns are
reaching out for the globalised market and fast developing their research
capacities. Official statements relate biotechnology research not only to
the discourse on worldwide competitiveness, but to development issues
and the “welfare of the poor”. On the domestic market, human genetic
research is related to the market demands of culturally conditioned pro-
creation technology. For the sake of male offspring, couples are prepared
to invest a lot of money in fertility and gender determination technologies.
A survey clearly demonstrates that cloning is already the focus of many
research projects in private and public research institutions. Human clon-
ing is officially forbidden. Human stem-cell research, however, is well
established, particularly in private laboratories, restrictions notwithstand-
ing. Commercially offered human stem-cell lines from India are recom-
mended by the US National Institute of Health. With its human biotech-
nology-friendly public awareness, its strong and commercially successful
biotechnology industry, and its loose state control on privately run labo-
ratories, India may soon turn out to be “the world's cloning superpower”.

Key Words: India, Hindu ethics, Human cloning, Stem-cell research, In
vitro fertilization, Modernisation and tradition.

India's biotechnology appears to be blossoming, both in scientific research and in the commercial field. The research institutions of Indian universities and of the big Indian-based private pharmacological concerns are members of the globalising scientific community. They contribute to international research projects, adapt new research results to domestic conditions, and participate in the commercial transformation of biotechnological progress into market demands - at home and in the “globalising world.”

Official statements relate biotechnology research not only to the discourse on worldwide competitiveness, but to development issues and the “welfare of the poor.” The Indian Ministry of Science and Technology hosts a Department of Biotechnology since 1986,1 which defines its “vision” as “Attaining new heights in biotechnology research, shaping bio

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