The Ethics in Bacto-Aid

In our project’s components there are different ethical concerns. The bacteriocins in the hybrid silk raises questions about health and security: if one is to apply genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) to a natural environment there will be insecurities. The problem is that we can never, with full certainty, know all possible consequences - but we can derive an estimated account of what will happen. The Precautionary Principle helps resolve this, but the interpretation of the Precautionary Principle differentiates according to one’s preferences and intuitions when it comes to emerging technologies and therapeutics. It basically states that it’s sometimes better to not apply a technology or therapeutics, when the foresight is uncertain. In the opposite situation, the argument is that sometimes it is better to take action, even when one does not have complete certainty on the possible consequences. The Precautionary Principle works as a tool for making decisions that can be rationally justified when uncertainty are present. Sometimes it functions as a rhetorical or epistemological tool, but in the field of bioethics it is mostly a tool for decisions KAPPEL, K. 2011. Bioetik. In: CHRISTENSEN, A.-M. S. (ed.) Filosofisk Etik. Århus: Aarhus Universitetsforlag..

Since bacteriocins have no effect on the humane cells, that we know of, we have decided to work with them Cotter, Paul D, R Paul Ross og Colin Hill (2013). “Bacteriocins - a viable alternative to antibiotics?” eng. I: Nat Rev Microbiol 11.2, s. 95–105. issn: 1740-1534 (Electronic); 1740-1526 (Linking). doi: 10 . 1038 / nrmicro2937.. The different trials that a new form of therapeutics must withstand are still necessary for determining if it’s safe enough to apply in a natural environment. A comprehensive risk assessment can be seen at our Safety page.

Justification and happiness

Working with GMO’s leads to thoughts about justification: how can one morally justify the methods and the results? Bioethics handles the questions by supplying the foundation for the discussion. It derives from theories about normative ethics and medical concerns and has then specialized in the questions which rises in working with modifying organisms. In the field of bioethics there is different ways to justify the work and different types of arguments, depending on which area one works with and what problem one tries to solve.

In our project we have focused a lot on antibiotic resistance and plastic pollution as a problem in the community and environment. The general argument for justification we use, is an appeal to utility. This means that the work we do aims to increase the overall happiness and utility, which are seen by utilitarians as the most important factor to value actions by. This also makes us ‘proactivists’ which means that we look upon new technologies with a positive mind KAPPEL, K. 2011. Bioetik. In: CHRISTENSEN, A.-M. S. (ed.) Filosofisk Etik. Århus: Aarhus Universitetsforlag..

For more information on the Precautionary Principle, click here. For more information about bioethics and our justification, then click here.