Ethical, legal and social issues
In developing Synthetic Biology, academic research, government policy and public support must be aligned. To date, little research on ethics in Synthetic Biology has been published. The Network aims to address this and relevant social concerns by establishing an ethical framework for discussion and engagement with the wider community from the outset. Dr Newson and Prof ter Meulen and Prof Macnaghten have been instrumental in developing the Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) aspects of The Network, and will drive forward the ELSI agenda throughout its lifetime.
Specific ELSI related activities will include:
- a Discussion Meeting in Year 1 will be dedicated to scoping out ELSI issues, clarifying concepts and developing a framework for later discussions. Issues to inform this meeting include:
- research, environmental and ecological ethics, drawing on relevant existing debates;
- ethical & regulatory issues raised by the possibility of creating & commercialising new life forms;
- each subsequent Discussion Meeting will include sessions on ELSI and public engagement issues;
- a Discussion Meeting in Year 3 will be dedicated to an exploration of how ELSI issues have changed and to consider the development of responses / polices for Synthetic Biology.
Some selected reading
- Public Dialogue in Synthetic Biology, commissioned by the Research Councils. A digest of the report (PDF, 246kB) is also available.
- US Bioethics Committee gives the green light to Synthetic Biology. (PDF, 90kB) December 2010
- Ainsley Newson. ELSI research in SynBio: What’s being done? What should be done? (PDF, 345kB) SCN Annual Conference September 2009
- Synthetic Biology. Enthusiasm and Care. Ainsley Newson on the role of bioethics. (PDF, 891kB) People and Science, September 2009
- BBSRC commissioned review: Synthetic Biology, Social and Ethical Challenges (PDF, 496kB)
- Parens, E., Johnston, J. and Moses, J. (2008). Do We Need "Synthetic Bioethics"? Science, Vol. 321. no. 5895, p. 1449