controversies & ethics

S. LaBonne labonnes at csc.albany.edu
Thu Feb 2 16:41:47 EST 1995

In article <3gr5on$amt at nnrp.ucs.ubc.ca>,
Heidi N LeBlanc <leblanc at unixg.ubc.ca> wrote:
>One of the problems isn't so much what we *do* with biotechnology, as how 
>what we do is generally perceived.  We as scientists think "Oh, what a 
>clever idea, putting an arctic fish gene into strawberries".  
>Non-scientists, with whatever level of education, often seem to think 
>this is just monstrous.  The issue might not really be whether what we 
>are doing is ethical, or whether the ethics are unique to biotech, but 
>rather that the level of tinkering we can achieve is vaguely felt to be 
>just plain unnatural.  The ethical problems might really be PR problems, 
>and no less real for that.  

I quite agree, and my fear is that we needlessly _exacerbate_ these PR
problems if we single out biotechnology for the kind of special treatment
exemplified by the proposed course that started this discussion.  Then
naturally laypeople conclude, "Gee, even the scientists think this stuff
is especially problematical, so we _certainly_ should be worried".

Steve LaBonne *********************** (labonnes at csc.albany.edu)
"It can never be satisfied, the mind, never." - Wallace Stevens

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