The risk of contaminating human edibles from drug-producing crops is very real, according to a panel of experts who agree with a group called Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). They’ve issued a report that says current controls to prevent potential migration of seeds and other bits from bioengineered crops are inadequate.
Evidence is clear that it’s nearly impossible to isolate crops genetically; a 2002 experiment with pig vaccine in corn resulted in contaminated crops having to be burned. Panel members agree with the UCS that the goverment ought to ban growing such crops outdoors.
As our ability to manipulate nature grows, so does our responsibility. Just as with atomic and nuclear weapons, with biogenetic engineering we hold in our hands the power of life and death over untold numbers of the earth’s population. A Google search on “ethics bioengineering” yields 10 pages of results–many coming from various university websites.
It’s good to make sure we educate our bioengineers about ethics while they’re in school. But who’s minding the ethics when they get out into corporate America and the bottom line is chasing them? Here’s a golden opportunity for business leaders to step forward and offer by word and by example the guidance that people need. Maybe we could start by introducing our leaders to the Union of Concerned Scientists. I hope they send out a newsletter to every corporate officer in every company around the world.
Because with this kind of power, it only takes one guy who refuses to adhere to the code of ethics to change the course of mankind.