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Environmental factors for biotechnology

1. Select one important sustainability issue of global significance and express this issue in no more than one short sentence

2. Describe the main environmental elements of your chosen global sustainability issue (5 marks).

3. Describe the critical social elements of this global sustainability issue

4. Describe the key economic elements of this global sustainability issue  

5. Identify two major ethical problems which are strongly connected with your chosen global sustainability issue

6. Discuss the two ethical problems identified in part 5 drawing on relevant ethical theory (8 marks).

7. Your chosen global sustainability issue presents both significant threats and opportunities for business. Discuss these major business threats and opportunities.

8. Your chosen global sustainability issue will contain multiple causes of unsustainability and will cause actions which are considered unethical. You are required to propose an ethical and sustainable solution to the problems which underpin this global sustainability issue. This proposed solution should address causes of unsustainability, as well as financial, technological and behavioural barriers to removing these causes of unsustainability.


This a method for perfecting variety, where instead of the waiting for natural selection to perfect a breed, scientists can just pick and choose suitable genes; it is the pinnacle of the ethics and sustainability debate (Yadav & Dyaram 2015, p. 807).

Biotechnology is a sensitive issue. Most people do not understand the dynamics of the industry and for this reason, it has grown to be one of the most regulated industries. In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for every bit of this industry (Vanderbyl & Kobelak 2007, p. 69). Take, for example, the research approval phase, a company is mandated to go through three stages of scrutiny before production can begin. And should the biotechnology company fail any of three phases, then the cost suffered is enormous. The costs suffered if the company fails three stages is very big. Fearing this, companies spare vast amounts of money to ensure all three phases are passed successfully (Baran 2016, p. 47).

Cultures in the world are always motivated to advance and better their quality of life (Yadav & Dyaram 2015, p. 807). Because of advances in technology, the quality of life has bread a new culture of lay individuals that are willing to take pills to handle every issue. Biotechnology is stressed upon to develop new and improved means of dealing with life problems. This is good for the industry for it provides a basis for motivation and financing for its projects.

Political environment

The new emerging issue in the world of technology is nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is science at the smallest molecular level (LIU 2010, p. 4). This means it really impacts the industry. Nanotechnology is predicted to have the ability to be customised for each client's needs, Developers of this technology dream of a microscopic device that can be guided by remote control to any part of the body to conduct surgery. This brings new avenues for biotechnology, but given that nanotechnology is still in its infancy, it could be decades or even centuries before it is fully developed for public use.

The life expectancy of the world has increased. In fact, it has been predicted by the year 2030, the number of people 55 years and above will double. This means there will be an increase of elderly people with chronic diseases. In the US, the baby booming age is rising, more people are starting families.

This generally is a good sign for the biotechnology business since they are responsible for creating treatments for chronic diseases that affect mainly the elderly. For this reason, they are expected to earn profits as they design these treatments.

Chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes have gotten common today. In the US alone one or more of these conditions have diagnosed more than half the adult population. The Center for Disease Control has attributed the eruption of these conditions to poor lifestyles lead by most people today. Drugs and alcohol abuse, unhealthy diets and no exercises are some of the characteristics that lead to some forms of cancer and heart disease (Ding 2011, p. 257). These conditions demand the use of biotechnology drugs to manage their effects. This obviously, translates to more profits for these companies. In fact biotechnology giants like Amgen, Biogen and GILD have manufactured and distributed several different treatments for these diseases. And with the continued deterioration of lifestyle, they are predicted to make more drugs and implement new management solutions for these conditions.

Particular locations attract particular kind of disease. This fact is a key factor in the success of a biotechnology drug in the area. Depending on the total number of individuals affected by the disease in question, insurance agencies decide whether to add a biotechnology drug to the list of their insured drugs. The total number of affect people also is used to estimate the price of the drug.

Socio-cultural environment

Biotechnology firms are different from pharmaceutical firms in many different ways. First, they are more research and developments and are merely just starting out. This means they get most of their funding from financial markets (Azar & Mackey 2015, p. 15). Pharmaceutical firms fund their research and development through internal cash flows. Now, an increase in inflation is caused by the central bank increased interest rates. This results in a reduction in capital and R&D investments (Pattit, Raj & Wilemon 2014).

With little investment capital, biotechnology firms are forced to provide higher returns to get funds. And despite the fact that the demand for medicine is not dependent on the economic state, these fluctuations in the state of the economy causes a state of panic where the public demands for a reduction on healthcare spending. This eventually forces biotechnology companies to offer discounts on their prices which ends up affecting their profits.

Major ingredients in the manufacturing of biotechnology drugs are petroleum based. Meaning, a reduction in the price of oil reduces the cost of production which increases the profit margins. Therefore it is accurate to say that low oil prices increase biotechnology stocks shortly.

This is a very complicated issue. Chronically ill patients are willing to attempt a new drug or treatment procedure even the complete roster of its side effects is still unknown. These kinds of clinical trials are filled with chronically ill patients. These are people, so, an appointed group of experts should subject these trials to meticulous review. This should be done even before the patient can be allowed to look at a consent form (Berne 2014, p. 2958).

Another ethical issue in clinical trials is the failure by doctors to fully disclose their intentions with the clinical trial. This was witnessed in the case of James Wilson, MD, who failed to reveal that he owned a firm that would benefit from the results of the clinical trial. This point is stressed to biotechnology firms by pointing out that patients in the clinical trial should not be arranged inappropriately. Furthermore, patients should not be registered in a way that would suggest they were bribed to join instead of compensation for actual expenses (Berne 2014, p. 2958). This only means, trials should be conducted transparently forms the time it begins during register to data collection, analyzing and reporting. This should protect the patients and the integrity of studies in science.

Technological environment

The next biggest ethics issue is privacy. And this is a critical issue. Developments in the infrastructure of the biotechnology industry have enabled researchers and scientists to decode the human genome. As scientists dive deeper into this study, it is possible that the information about the future health status of an individual will also become predictable.

This raises a number of ethical issues. A case study would be, suppose the genome of a 3-year-old child predicts that the child will have a chronic genetic disease as he develops, does his future employer need to know that? How is this information affect the child's ability to get employment later in life? Does his insurance company deserve to have access to that information? or his future mortgage? (Monteverde 2014, p. 385)

If one was to take a genetic test that comes back positive, the price to treat/ manage the disease immediately rocket to 1 million. So, what is the insurance company supposed to do with this information? They cannot inform the employer of the financial responsibility coming their way (Jameel 2011, p. 15). This is how ethical issues can cause difficulties.

This ethical theory argues that a decision maker acts according to the laid down guidelines and should be fair to all. Meaning, the same rules apply to everyone except in few extreme circumstances which can be allowed to exist in these circumstances (Monteverde 2014, p. 385). These extreme circumstances must have a very important significance to the cases that fall under the circumstances. In this theory, from whatever angle, there are guidelines that have to be followed.

In the case of protecting clinical subjects, there are guidelines for ethical selection, recruitment and data collection. The doctor or scientist conducting the clinical trial has to oblige to these set of rules at all times. The same goes for privacy, which is agreed all over that is the most important and should be observed at all times. Justice ethical theory compels doctors to keep the identities of their patients a secret (Allan & Grisso 2014, p. 467). During the signing of the consent form, the patient is required to give his permission to a test that they fully understand. On the doctors part, they are required to inform the patient all the details of the study including the intention and if there is an organisation set to benefit from the research results. The guidelines/ regulations for issuing informed consent must be obeyed.

Critical social elements

Agriculture- Students who specialized in food and agricultural activities have a chance to influence the agriculture HRM. A good career in agriculture requires a solid base in biology, which is a specialization of biotechnology (Bennett, Chi-Ham, Barrows, Sexton & Zilberman 2013, p. 250). For the students pursuing animal science, a degree in animal physiology is required.

Business finance and Market- Individuals with a background in biology and biotechnology have the advantage to promote and market biotechnology products like drugs. Likewise, the field of biotechnology requires individuals with combined managerial skills and biological background (Mileti, Guido & Prete 2016, p. 665).

Computational Biology- The sequencing of the genome is getting prominent. A student with a background of biotechnology is high considered for this position.

Environmental engineering-Previously, environmental engineers were involved in water and air quality but today new areas have emerged like bioremediation (Sonnino 2016, p. 41). A student can get involved in an environmental program. A student of biology has an advantage with the study of mathematics.

Pharmaceutical industry-This is a large diverse industry with small start-ups and giant multi-national firms. This industry is very interested in the quick identification of individuals with a specific kind of disease and the design and development of treatment drugs. All these are the qualifications of biotechnologist.

The advance in biotechnology is undeniable. It has grown fast; in fact, almost every country in the world has a biotechnology laboratory. The advancement in the field threatens the existence of some businesses. For example, in Africa, a strain of corn was engineer such that it did not require fertilizer to grow (Banerjee 2015, p. 57). This kind of technology directly challenges an opponent that has no means to fight back.

Unsustainability occurs when the development today is at the expense of upcoming events. In ethical terms, unsustainability is the formation of ethical rules that cannot withhold in the future. The financial, barriers to sustainability are state of the economy, currency fluctuations, inflation (Amantova-Salmane 2015, p. 6). Technological barriers include social media growth, privacy on the internet and behavioral barriers include people's innate rejection of the law or any sort of order and upbringing.

The best way to remove these barriers is to come up with an implementation strategy that involves cooperation among all stakeholders.

List of References

Yadav, A, & Dyaram, L 2015, 'When Growth is Critical: Indian Biotechnology Start-ups' Perspective', Proceedings Of The European Conference On Innovation & Entrepreneurship, pp. 807-815, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Population demographics

Vanderbyl, S, & Kobelak, S 2007, 'Critical success factors for biotechnology industry in Canada', Journal Of Commercial Biotechnology, 13, 2, pp. 68-77, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Liu, Cc 2010, 'A Spatial Ecology Of Structural Holes: Scientists And Communication At A Biotechnology Firm', Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, vol. 2010, no. 1, pp. 1-6. Available from: 10.5465/AMBPP.2010.54497844. [18 May 2018].

Pattit, J, Raj, S, & Wilemon, D 2014, 'The R&D Outsourcing Decision: Environmental Factors And Strategic Considerations', International Journal Of Innovation & Technology Management, 11, 2, p. -1, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Ding, WW 2011, 'The Impact of Founders' Professional-Education Background on the Adoption of Open Science by For-Profit Biotechnology Firms', Management Science, 57, 2, pp. 257-273, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Banerjee, S 2015, 'Ruptured Bodies and Invaded Grains: Biotechnology as Bioviolence in Indian Science Fiction', Journal Of The Fantastic In The Arts, 26, 1, pp. 58-75, Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Berne, B 2014, 'Progression in Ethical Reasoning When Addressing Socio-scientific Issues in Biotechnology', International Journal Of Science Education, 36, 17, pp. 2958-2977, Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Baran, A 2016, 'Nanotechnology: legal and ethical issues', Economics & Management / Ekonomia I Zarzadzanie, 8, 1, pp. 47-54, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Bennett, A, Chi-Ham, C, Barrows, G, Sexton, S, & Zilberman, D 2013, 'Agricultural Biotechnology: Economics, Environment, Ethics, and the Future', Annual Review Of Environment & Resources, 38, 1, pp. 249-279, GreenFILE, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Mileti, A, Guido, G, & Prete, M 2016, 'Nanomarketing: A New Frontier for Neuromarketing', Psychology & Marketing, 33, 8, pp. 664-674, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Monteverde, S 2014, 'Undergraduate healthcare ethics education, moral resilience, and the role of ethical theories', Nursing Ethics, 21, 4, pp. 385-401, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Sonnino, A 2016, 'Current and Potential Application of Biotechnology in Forestry: A Critical Review', Asian Biotechnology & Development Review, 18, 3, pp. 41-84, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Amantova-Salmane, L 2015, 'Ethical Aspects Of Sustainability', Latgale National Economy Research, 1, pp. 5-16, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Azar, S, & Mackey, T 2015, 'Crowdfunding: A New Untapped Opportunity for Biotechnology Start-ups?', Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 15-28. Available from: 10.5912/jcb717. [18 May 2018].

Jameel, S 2011, 'Ethics in biotechnology and biosecurity', Indian Journal Of Medical Microbiology, 29, 4, pp. 331-335, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

Allan, A, & Grisso, T 2014, 'Ethical Principles and the Communication of Forensic Mental Health Assessments', Ethics & Behavior, 24, 6, pp. 467-477, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 May 2018.

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