Publications, Reports and Articles

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Report: Energy for a Changing Climate May 2007

In contrast to fossil and nuclear fuels, renewable energy offers alternative sources of energy for the future that will not run out, which in general add little to the pollution and waste problems caused by fossil fuels, without the risks attendant on nuclear power. Read More

Report: Embryo Research, Human Stem Cells and Cloned Embryos Report May 2006

A multi-disciplinary working group of the SRT Project has produced a report on human stem cell research and embryology, which was debated at the Church of Scotland General Assembly on 23 May 2006. It assessed the scientific developments in adult and embryonic stem cells and cloning, in the context of case studies on their potential use to treat Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and and motor neurone diseases, diabetes and blood disorders. The report warns against overclaiming the potential of different approaches, which are mostly far from therapeutic application. It re-examines the complex issue of the moral status of the human embryo, recognising the differences of view within the Church. Read More

Report: Can we Find a Shared Vision for Biotechnology?

Vision is something which motivates us, rooted in certain values we hold. Scientists, companies, governments and regulators have positive differing visions about biotechnology - like discovery, prosperity, sustainability, competitivity. Such visions may not however be shared by the public, especially concerning food, agriculture and the environment. The vision of progress through technology has been increasingly challenged in Europe. A more sceptical attitude has emerged, which may construct innovation in terms of risk as much as benefit. To be accepted by society, biotechnology has now to fulfill certain conditions, an invisible social contract. For example, if an application is unfamiliar, it must be in control of people who are trusted and whose motivations are shared; it must not challenge fundamental values, or present high consequence risks unless there is a comparable benefit to the end user… Read More

Report: Genetic Risk Regulation; Society & Ethics

In recent years genetic engineering has emerged on to the threshold of becoming a practical technology in agriculture and medicine. As it has done so, it has posed many complex questions regarding risk, regulation, societal structures and ethics. But these are apt to be treated too much in isolation in their separate disciplines. There has been a general recognition of the need to integrate risk assessment with other disciplines, and this paper is an attempt to do this, by considering the interrelation of these facets. It arises out of the membership of its three authors on an expert working group into the ethics of genetic engineering, being run by the Society, Religion and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland, of which I am Director. I am a chemist formerly a nuclear inspector, now turned ethicist, John Eldridge is a sociologist with special interest in media and risk studies including the BSE situation, and Joyce Tait works in environmental management, with a background in risk perception and regulation. We do this in the context of an analysis of the two different types of regulation applied to the potential risks associated with applying genetic engineering to agriculture - the precautionary and the reactive. Read More

Report: Living With Uncertainty - Risk And BSE

First it was sheep cloning, then pigs hearts for humans, then it was BSE. Animals have been big news of late. Keeping pace with these developments is the SRT Project’s work on genetic engineering in non-human life forms, now nearing completion. In this edition of the SRT Bulletin we look at some of these topical issues. Read More

Report: Human Stem Cell Patents would be Unethical

The working group on bioethics of the Conference of European Churches and its predecessor EECCS has for several years been engaging with the issues surrounding the patenting of biotechnological inventions. The group consists of specialists drawn from European Protestant and Orthodox churches in Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland and the UK. Our range of expertise includes biochemistry, chemistry, genetics, law, medicine, medical and technological ethics, and practical theology. Read More

Report: Patenting Life?

Once upon a time we knew that animals were products of nature. We used them and “owned” them, but it was different from owning a pair of shoes. Animals could get up and walk away; shoes couldn’t. And unlike patent leather, you couldn’t patent a cow. Patents are about inventions, and since when had human beings invented an animal? Read More

Report: What Future for Nuclear Power?

It is our view that the future prospects for nuclear power cannot properly be assessed in isolation from an overall understanding of energy production and use in the UK. In this respect we are disturbed that the Government’s assessment of the different sectors of the country’s energy requirements is apparently being done on a piecemeal basis - coal, nuclear, renewables, etc. Many experts, as well as ourselves, have repeatedly stressed to the Government that in an area so strategic to the country’s well being - not only economic, but also environmental, and in health and safety - it is profoundly lacking in foresight to assess the prospects in any particular sector of energy, without setting out an overall, long term energy policy. This should address not only the balance of energy supply methods, but the necessary portfolio of investment incentives and fiscal policy to reduce energy consumption, encourage energy efficiency. Read More

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HISTORY of SRTP

image A short history of SRTP has been prepared by Dr. John Francis.
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