• Maria De Jesus Medina-Arellano

Student thesis: Phd


Many countries in Latin America, for cultural, religious and regulatory reasons, have struggled and failed to appear as competent players in the global bio-economy of emerging technologies in the biosciences field. This investigation takes Mexico as a country case study to map out the factors hampering the development of the governance of emergent biomedical biotechnologies in this context, particularly that applied to stem cell science. This research aims to contextualise and portray prevailing ethical, legal, political and religious concerns regarding stem cell research in this context. Exploring the debates in these arenas, it seeks to elucidate the perceptions of key stakeholders and to appraise critically the divergences and convergences among the actors who currently shape the debate and who may have significant influence on the creation of any legislative framework in the area. It explores whether it is feasible to draw on the approach taken to stem cell science and tissue regulation in the United Kingdom, in order to illuminate the way forward for governing stem cell research and its clinical applications in Mexico. It also aims to evaluate the risks posed by the persistent lack of regulation in this scientific field, since Mexico appears to be an ideal destination for stem cell tourism among Latin American countries. Drawing on empirical data gathered from prominent Mexican stakeholders in the stem cell issue, this research elucidates the key themes influencing the debate which need to be addressed in detail in order to prepare the ground for the effective governance of stem cell science and its clinical applications. By detailing the emergent themes and providing reflexive explanations of the elements influencing the views of all the actors in this arena, this thesis aims to provide ethical, empirical and normative proposals to be translated by policymakers into purposive regulation of biomedical innovations. Thus, it delineates two main features of the debate over stem cell science regulation in Mexico and shows the urgent need to create a legal framework to deal with problematic situations provoked by the legal vacuum in this area: a) the legal inertia preponderant in the Federal Congress, which is mainly caused by the constant lobbying of politicians by the Roman Catholic hierarchy to endorse prohibitive policies in sensitive areas, such as sexual matters, reproduction and stem cell science; b) the increasing phenomenon of stem cell tourism in the country, requiring the adoption of ethical and legal measures to avoid potential physical and financial harm to desperate patients who seek stem cell treatments.In conclusion, I argue that it is plausible to advance a permissive model of governance for the area of stem cell science. This thesis is supported by the evidence gathered from stakeholders' opinions, added to the data emanating from the analysis of the country case study. As a result, it is possible to propose as an initial strategy the adoption of significant regulatory features of the paradigmatic system of governance which applies in the United Kingdom. The law is up to date as of 19 June 2012.
Date of Award31 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDavid Gurnham (Supervisor), John Harris (Supervisor) & Sarah Devaney (Supervisor)


  • ethics
  • stem cell tourism
  • stem cell
  • Mexico
  • regulation

Cite this