Understanding the ethics of genetic engineering – let our experts at UC San Diego explain


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  • newswise-fullscreen Understanding the ethics of genetic engineering – let our experts at UC San Diego explain

    Credit: Erik Jepsen/ UC San Diego Publications

    UC San Diego Institute for Practical Ethics co-director Craig Callender

Genetic engineering — it’s a deep topic and one that is not easily understood. With advanced innovation like CRISPR becoming more popular, it is no wonder the call for ethics and explanation is on the forefront.

That’s why the UC San Diego Institute for Practical Ethics hosted its inaugural conference on the Ethics and Social Implications of Gene Drive technology in May.

The event saw leading scientists and ethicists working toward a better understanding of what happens when — not if — genetic engineering becomes increasingly commonplace.

“All around us, scientists are discovering new facts about the natural world with the ultimate aim of human betterment, but how will we know which of these new technologies will actually result in bettering our lives? We cannot get that information from science itself, and have to look to society,” said John H. Evans, co-director of the Institute for Practical Ethics and the Tata Chancellor’s Chair in Social Sciences.

Evans leads the interdisciplinary institute with Department of Philosophy professor Craig Callender, who said UC San Diego was quickly becoming a global center for gene drive technology as well as the social debates surrounding their use. The May 9-10 conference was held with the university’s Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, a partnership between UC San Diego, the India-based philanthropic Tata Trusts and the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Bangalore, India.

The two-day event tackled ethical topics including gene editing via CRISPR, assisted reproduction, synthetic biology and genomics, and gene drives along with the many advantages and applications such cloning, genetic rescue, de-extinction, invasive pest elimination, assisted adaptation and engineered disease resistance, among others.

“Not only are we growing and developing the field of ethics in gene drives, but we’re building a very lively community of researchers looking at emerging tools in medicine and global health, climate change and conservation, big data and human enhancement,” Callender said.

The forum was not to endorse nor deny any approach, but to consider and discuss the social and ethical implications of ground-breaking technology. . Genetic engineering will play a key part in the future — from environmental conservation and disease control to bringing long-gone species back into existence — and if you are covering the topic or need an expert to explain anything — that’s where we can help.

In 2015, Craig Callender had the “big idea” to make UC San Diego a major voice on ethical science, and just two years later he helped launch the Institute for Practical Ethics. He specializes in environmental ethics and the philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics and time.

Craig is available to speak with media regarding the ethics of today’s rapid innovation – simply respond to arrange an interview.

Media contact: Anthony King, 858-822-7824, anthonypking@ucsd.edu

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