PERSPECTIVE OF ETHICAL ISSUES AND CHALLENGES OF BIOTECHNOLOGY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRY
Advanced biotechnology should be paralleled with advancing ethics to address its implications. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, ethics of research and advanced biotechnology is not well-developed among scientists. There is also a lack of religious scholars’ knowledge about advancing technology to make 'fatwa' (religious edict in Islam) to the public regarding the use of such biotechnology. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perception of scientists and religious scholars in Iraq regarding the ethics and religious perspectives of different biotechnology experiments. A convenient non-probability sampling cross-sectional study was carried out in Iraq to figure out the Islamic and scientific scholar's views on technological advances in science including stem cell research, cloning, genetically modified crops, human gene editing, smartphone technology for health services and other advances in biotechnology research. A sample size of 125 science and 34 Islamic scholars were recruited from universities. Face to face interviews was used to collect the data. Descriptive statistics include the use of frequencies, and means, to present the results. Among 159 science and Islamic scholars only (18.2%) think religion can help using such technology by giving guidance and advice. A majority (52.8%) think unexpected and unknown results are the most important ethical questions in such research. Participants heard the most about vegetable genetic modification biotechnology (80.5%) while only (31.4%) heard about mosquito gene modification. The risk of environmental corruption was the most important ethical challenge among scholars (42.6%). More than one-third (35.8%) of participants believed that faith and religious belief have an impact on such biotechnologies but they also said no specialized individual is dealing with such research. Furthermore, (41.5%) of them think it is important for the public to know about ethical matters related to biotechnology research to protect their health and future. There are misconceptions and a lack of information about the ethical issues concerning advanced biotechnology experiments among science researchers and Islamic scholars. However, there was awareness of ethical challenges related to some of these technologies.
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