Report on Ethics: Summary
Table of Contents
Each NABC member institution should ensure that subject matter on ethical issues associated with food and agricultural biotechnology is systematically integrated into the curriculum of their institution.
The pattern of implementation will vary at each institution, but we expect that some combination of the following three strategies will be employed at most institutions.
- Modules included in basic and applied science courses
- Modules included in general courses on applied Ethics
- Special courses on Ethics and Food Biotechnology
Each NABC member institution should develop an institutional mechanism for supporting faculty interest and research on ethical issues.
Again, implementation will vary. In some institutions, an informal network of interested colleagues will fulfill this function, but in many places an annual workshop or a formal faculty center will be needed to carry this out.
Each NABC institution should include information on ethical issues in its public education programs on biotechnology.
Extension and public policy education materials should be developed and NABC institutions should actively disseminate materials on ethical issues beyond the campus.
The NABC should support these efforts of member institutions by sponsoring regular workshops or conferences on ethical issues, aiding in the development of modules and teaching materials, and aiding in the dissemination of materials in both printed and electronic form.
In particular, the NABC should support these efforts by raising funds from member institutions, from foundations and government agencies, and from the private sector, including commercial biotechnology companies.
Other Opportunities for NABC Recommendations
NABC recommendations can help promote action by other groups.
The committee encourages members of the NABC Executive Committee to consider recommending a Regional Project on Bioethics to be carried out with Hatch Funds. A regional project on bioethics would permit coordination and increased efficiency among the half-dozen or so research efforts on agricultural bioethics that are currently underway at member institutions. Although Hatch Funds are clearly limited, even minimal support to a bioethics project (such as travel to an annual regional project meeting) could significantly enhance ongoing efforts and would provide a mechanism for those who wish to initiate research programs to build on existing efforts. Of course, the process for initiating a regional project is beyond NABC's control, yet an NABC recommendation for such a project would certainly carry much weight.
The NABC Executive Committee should consider drafting a statement supporting continued or increased funding of programs such as Ethics and Values Studies at the National Science Foundation, and should consider a recommendation for the creation of a similar area of programming at the US Department of Agriculture. The Executive Committee should consider recommending a "check-off" program which would give P.I.'s the opportunity to request an automatic increase in Federal grants for agricultural research by a designated percentage (perhaps 2.5 percent) to support ethics-related research and workshops at their institutions. The Executive Committee should consider a recommendation that institutions conducting agricultural research commit a designated percentage (say 0.5 percent) of recovered indirect costs on contract research to ethics programming.