Author: M. Maseme.

Source: Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy, 20 July 2021

Abstract: It is common practice for biobanks and biobank researchers to seek funding from agencies that are independent of the biobank that often stipulate conditions requiring researchers to grant access and share biomaterials and data as part of the agreement, in particular, in international collaborative health research. As yet, to the author’s knowledge, there has been no study conducted to examine whether these conditions could result in the commercialization of biomaterials and data and whether such practice is considered ethical. This paper therefore seeks to answer the question of whether such sharing of biomaterials and data for biobank research in exchange for funding from sponsors and funders in collaborative health research is ethically justified. The central idea of this paper is based on an argument against commodifcation of the body and its parts, which includes biomaterials and data and holds that it is ethically wrong to commodify humans and their body parts. The arguments against commodifcation of biomaterials and data explored are the Kantian approach argument as it relates to interference of commodifcation with human dignity which is linked to a diminished sense of personhood, an argument against commodifcation that is based on a dilution of altruism and lastly the communitarian approach anti-commodifcation argument which emphasizes a social responsibility to the common good. Arguments in support of commodifcation based on liberal individualism and consequentialism are also discussed.

Keywords: Commodifcation · Biomaterials and data, Biobank research