Biotecnologías y cambio social: ¿derecho a la salud o derecho a estar sanos?

Abril 2007
Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos (IPP) CSIC, Working Paper. 2007-02

Vincenzo Pavone

In 2003, Adele Clarke argued that the Western world was facing an increasingly pervasive social, cultural and political phenomenon named biomedicalisation, which was transforming the concept of ‘health’ into an individual responsibility to be fulfilled through improved access to knowledge, self surveillance and the consumption of self help biomedical goods and services. More recently, Petersen has detected a parallel genetisation of health, reproduction and identity, which is allegedly encouraging the diffusion of genetic reductionism. The combined interaction of biomedicalisation and genetisation is promoting the emergence of new health care policies based on the idea of individual free choice and anchored to a controversial ‘right to be free from diseases’. In fact, the interactions of these factors may give rise to new forms of genetic discrimination, whose ultimate risk is the endorsement of so called ‘weak eugenics’ selection processes. In spite of the clear social and political dimensions, the present approaches to the regulation of medical biotechnologies are generally based either on bioethical considerations, usually confined to normative issues and individual rights discourse, or on technical discussions, usually focused on the delivery of professional guidelines to secure international high quality standards of the biomedical products. This article, in contrast, suggests that it is urgent and necessary to broaden the normative approach of the bioethical committees so as to include new insights from empirical studies on the social and political impact of a large-scale implementation of the new biomedical technologies.