Natural ways are better: Adolescents and the 'anti-obesity' Gene

Science and Engineering Ethics 3 (3):305-315 (1997)
Empirical research with young people in Finland, Germany, Spain and Britain was carried out as part of the BIOCULT project funded by the European Union. The project focused on their attitudes to biotechnology and, in particular, the formation of arguments about risk and safety. This paper looks at the responses of 14–18 year olds to a story about the so called anti-obesity gene, in the form of advice to a friend who is taking it. The majority advised against taking it with some differences by gender and country. Most reservations were on grounds of safety and the feeling that ‘natural’ ways to lose weight are better: A minority questioned the idea of striving for a ‘perfect’ body. The types of arguments used by the young people reveal underlying perspectives on the place of human beings in the world and whether they have a right to manipulate nature and their own bodies.
Keywords biotechnology  obesity gene  young people  risk  natural  humanistic
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