Rainforest in South America  

Bioethics Case Study – Rainforest in South America


Read the scenario below, then answer the questions that follow.  Each answer should be about ¼ to 1/2 page minimum (12pt font, double spaced, 1” margins).Turn a digital copy in on TurnItIn in Moodle.  Due Thursday, Nov. 12.

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The Scenario

A small less-developed country in South America is deep in debt. Its main resource is its rain forest. The forest is home to a diverse array of animals and plants, and has extremely high biodiversity.  Scientists know many of the species found there, but dozens of new species are discovered every year.  There may be many orders of magnitude more species present than is currently known.  Currently, the native population uses the forest in a subsistence manner, using only the resources they need. That being said, they are very poor, without access to modern amenities.

In order to raise revenue, the government has already granted a license to a Japanese logging company to clear 25% of the forest. The land that has so far been cleared is used for cattle ranching, mainly to raise beef for the US market.  The government is considering granting a license to a trans-national biotechnology company to explore and harvest plant and animals from the forest to exploit the gene pool.  In addition to receiving the income from the license, the company has agreed to pay the government royalties on income generated from discoveries based on the rain forest gene pool.



  1. Identify the ethical issues involved in dealing with this situation.
  2. Explain what you think the perspective of each of the actors in the scenario is: the government of the country, the people in the country, the logging company, the US market, the biotechnology company and the animals and plants in the rainforest?
  3. List some pros and cons for each actor that has been identified.
  4. Should the government grant the biotechnology company the requested license? Explain your answer.


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