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Archived Comments for: Human rights in the biotechnology era 1

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  1. Cautious or Unwarranted Optimism?

    Luis Justo, Universidad Nacional del Comahue - Argentina

    22 December 2002

    Like chinese shadows, discursive declarations about health and biotechnology are elusive. I would like very much to share Prof. Benatar's "cautious optimism", but I'm afraid that there's little reason to do so.

    Everyday we witness an agressive policy coming from US officers declaring holy war against terrorist foes. On that ground civil liberties are severely curtailed for US citizens, so any expectations about a universal freedom-promoting policy from US government doesn't seem to be well grounded. Within that scenery, the new worries about "social capital" and how bad health undermines it, seem to be no more than a new turn of the capitalist wheel to keep going on. To be aware of the real intentions of business-driven US government, I suggest to have a look at post-Doha attitudes in Latin America, where US officers are trying to limit the possibilities for LA countries to make use of compulsory licensing.

    I agree with Prof. Benatar that "a deeper commitment could be developed by the USA and other nations to the moral and strategic importance of improving global health" but I have no hope that this will happen without strong international pressure. In the meantime I think that declarations worrying for better health, even if funded with several million dollars, are distracting manoeuvers from the sheer fact that underdeveloped countries are being exploited as before. When pharmaceutical industry stops charging abusive prices for essential drugs, not only to poor countries but to their own fellow citizens, a wind of change and relief will be felt over the world. Then, perhaps, optimism will be granted on better grounds.

    Competing interests