Should we become a GM Nation? is the title of a new Church of Scotland report just released for debate at the General Assembly on 18 May. It is written by the Kirk’s own Society, Religion and Technology Project (SRT), which has pioneered the examination of ethical and social issues of GM since 1993 in its seminal study Engineering Genesis. The new report argues that although GM is not wrong in itself, the Government should not have given the go-ahead last month for herbicide tolerant GM maize to be grown commercially in the UK. “Given the current strength of public opinion revealed in last summer’s official public consultation, and the continuing uncertainties about environmental impacts, these are the wrong type of GM crops at the wrong time,” says the SRT Project Director, Dr Donald Bruce. Read More
Future technological developments concerning food, agriculture and the environment face a gulf of social legitimation from a sceptical public and media, in the wake of the crises of BSE, GM food, and foot and mouth disease in the UK. There is distrust of the bioindustry, the regulatory system and the assurances of Government. This paper examines agricultural biotechnology in terms of a social contract, assessing the conditions which would be necessary to re-establish a measure of public trust against a climate of suspicion. A vital factor is how far new shared visions can be found for future developments in this field. Read More
The recent genetic engineering of a monkey in the USA has now brought to the fore some important issues about the research on animals for human benefits. The dramatic developments in cloning and embryonic human stem cells are raising another basic question of the increasingly blurred borderline between animal and human research. Research done on animals today, like cloned sheep and mouse stem cells, can rapidly become applied for use in humans. Insights from human examples feed back into animal research. In this report, we wish to examine how far we may use and modify animals for human uses, and the relationship between biotechnology in animals and in humans. Read More
A short history of SRTP has been prepared by Dr. John Francis.