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What sort of regulation is desirable and realistic when it comes to biotechnology/new technologies

Technology such as GM foods, assisted reproduction, etc.. have a sort of "moral view about nature" attached to it and play a critical role in policy making. Therefore, I was wondering what sort of regulation should be involved when making policies about these kinds of technologies? Should there be more regulation? Less? should it be governed by the government, private sector, scientists, the public? etc..

  • Oct 26 2013: James,

    Have found that regulations and standards are usually years, if not decades, behind the technology. What I think you are asking for is ethical behavior from researchers and corporations. This will require an openness which is not supported by corporations or the laws today.

    I also agree with Nadav - we need basic guidelines but need to evaluate on a case by case basis.
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    Oct 26 2013: Innovation friendly regulation is desirable which may sound unrealistic for the time being but will evolve to be realistic over time. That's what happened in past as well....
  • Oct 26 2013: The question is far too broad to have a universal answer. Every case needs to be judged for its own merits.

    I will however say that "moral view about nature" should have nothing to do with it. A rational risk-reward analysis is much more appropriate for any form of decision making.
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    Oct 25 2013: Hello James,
    The more technology develops, the more its control becomes ethical, psychological and spiritual in nature.
    Why? Because technology is an amplifier of the human mind. What we hold in our minds as important, gets amplified via technology.

    So when it comes to bio- and other new technologies, it forces us to define (essentially) what is sacred for us. Only then will we get agreement on appropriate laws. Only with a strong sense of the sacred (whether in relation to planet earth, or us as humans, or animals, etc) will we have the clarity to shape those laws.
    Unfortunately the last 30+ years has shown that the power-bloc of the military-economic-industrial-complex has the power to change or ignore laws they don't like. However, law still has a role (such as in banning chemical weapons because there is general agreement that such weapons unacceptably cross a line of what we hold as sacred).

    So the other option is bottom-up. With that in mind I give you the following: a quote by Percy Redfern, written nearly 100 years ago in 1920, from his book "The Consumers' Place in Society" (section 12), in relation to the beginnings of the Co-operative movement which started in Manchester, U.K.

    "In our common everyday needs the great industries of the world take their rise. We — the mass of common men and women in all countries— also compose the world's market. To sell to us is the ultimate aim of the world's business. Hence it is ourselves as consumers who stand in a central relation to all the economics of the world, like a king in his kingdom. As producers we go each unto a particular factory, farm or mine, but as consumers we are set by nature thus to give leadership, aim and purpose to the whole economic world. That we are not kings, but serfs in the mass, is due to our failure to think and act together as consumers and so realise our true position and power".
  • Oct 25 2013: Very relevant questions, James. Technology that affects every aspect of human life is evolving at an exponential rate, and since it is spread out over such a diverse spectrum in its usage, I believe the front line of regulation has to be up to the creators of the technologies themselves---to police themselves via ethics committees made up of people that do not stand to profit from the bottom line. The job of the government is to make and regulate laws that allow for checks and balances. The job of the public is to stay informed and make educated choices. Progress for ALL, not merely for profit. That is the morality that will have to guide us in the next stage of human evolution.