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Publications, Reports and Articles

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Report: Moral and Ethical Issues in Gene Therapy

Genetic research has advanced in a dramatic fashion in the last decade or so, to the point where it has now become possible to attempt therapeutic genetic modification, in a few cases of human genes, where a defects exists which manifests itself in certain serious diseases. This possibility, known as gene therapy, is only in its infancy. At present, no one knows how effective it will prove to be, even in the few conditions on which it is being tried - whether it will only be of relatively limited application, or whether it will open up many wider possibilities. It suffers both over-optimistic claims from some quarters and exaggerated dangers from others, over which the church needs to be discerning. It is, of course, not possible to assert exactly where the possibilities opened up by today’s technology will lead in terms of future developments, but various ethical and moral issues are implicit in the technology which it is important to draw to the Church’s attention, so that it is forearmed in an area where developments have been taking place at a bewildering pace. An editorial in the “New Scientist” in April 1994 drew attention to the need to weigh up what may still be future issues today, before the technological “horse” bolts from the stable and it is too late to lock the door. Read More

Report: The Millennium, Seattle and the End of Technology

Since humans began counting, certain numbers have had special significance. There’s a whole literature on the meanings people have attached to various numbers in the Bible - like 3 for the Trinity, 12 apostles and 7 all sorts of things. In our current system of numerals, which we call Arabic, it’s repeats of tens that we especially choose to commemorate. Now we’ve reached the two tens of tens of tens of years ... But what from? Not the Big Bang, nor beginning of the human race, nor what we call western civilisation; we don’t know when any those happened. It’s dated from a person. But why that person? Read More

Report: Cloning in the 21st Century

In December 2008, Margo MacDonald MSP (Independent) published her Consultation paper, The Proposed End of Life Choices (Scotland) Bill. This has now progressed to the introduction in the Scottish Parliament, on 20th January 2010, of a Bill, the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill. Although it was expected that this Bill would be scruitinsed by the Health and Sport Committee, a six- member ad hoc Committee has been formed to scrutinise the proposed legislation. A call for written evidence to this committee was issued on 10th Feb 2010; the deadline for submission is 12th May 2010 , after which point oral evidence will be taken. The Parliament has agreed that the deadline for the end of consideration of Stage 1 of the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill is to be 24th November 2010. All MSPs have been given the freedom to vote on conscience, rather than the vote being subject to party whips Read More

Report: Sustainable Agriculture Report 2002

In 2002 the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland considered a report on sustainable agriculture. Read More

Report: The Effect of Transport on the Scottish Environment

The Effect of Transport on the Scottish Environment Chapter from the 1994 Church and Nation Committee Report “The Environmental Impact of Economic Activity in Scotland” In recent years transport has emerged as one of the most urgent environmental issues. Like energy, all forms of transport impact on the environment. Even the more benign can damage by overuse in a fragile location, as the effects of repeated booted feet on a popular “Munro” bear witness. How much more with mechanically propelled transport! Read More

Report: Response to the review of human embryology act

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has considered in detail many matters to do with reproduction, stem cells, the embryo and research as well as a range of wider issues of the family. Study groups of the Board of Social Responsibility reported on human genetics and genetic selection in 1995, on embryology and IVF in 1996.  In 1997 the SRT Project reported on animal and human cloning.  Both groups reported on stem cells and ‘therapeutic’ cloning in 2001,  and further stem cell reports were made from 2002-4. Sex selection issues were considered in 2002 and 2003. Our responses draw on this body of work and also on a multi-disciplinary expert working group on stem cell issues which is currently in progress and which will report to the May 2006 Assembly. Read More

Report: John Knox’s Guide to Net Ethics

The following is an article written in 1996, for what was going to be ‘John Knox’s Guide to the Internet’, before the project to produce became overtaken by events (largely on cloning issues which burst upon us at this point and took up a great deal of our time for the next several years). But 10 years on we think quite a lot of it is still relevant and we’ve even added a bit about information overload and authoritative information. Read More

Report: GM nation Report

Genetically modified crops and food remain one of the most controversial issues of recent times. In 1993, long before ‘GM’ became a public issue, SRT brought together a working group of experts in GM research, ethics, sociology, agriculture, risk and animal welfare, in a far-reaching five year study on the ethics of genetic engineering in crops and animals. Our resulting book Engineering Genesis proved very timely in 1998, and was widely acclaimed for its informed and balanced insights by both sides of a now rapidly polarising public debate. Based on these findings, the SRT Project presented a detailed report to the 1999 General Assembly, taking an intermediate position. The Assembly did not oppose the use of GM food and crops as such and saw some potential benefits. But it was highly critical of the behaviour of multi-national companies in thrusting GM imports into Europe without labelling or segregation, of the commercially driven priorities of the technology, of spurious claims to “feed the world”, and of the dismissal of emerging public concerns by the UK Government and EU. 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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