Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 109-121

First online:

Lex genetica: The law and ethics of programming biological code

  • Dan L. BurkAffiliated withUniversity of Minnesota Law School

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Recent advances in genetic engineering nowallow the design of programmable biologicalartifacts. Such programming may include usageconstraints that will alter the balance ofownership and control for biotechnologyproducts. Similar changes have been analyzedin the context of digital content managementsystems, and while this previous work is usefulin analyzing issues related to biologicalprogramming, the latter technology presents new conceptual problems that require morecomprehensive evaluation of the interplaybetween law and technologically embeddedvalues. In particular, the ability to embedcontractual terms in technological artifactsnow requires a re-examination of disclosure andconsent in transactions involving such artifacts.

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