(0411.3129)
Bioethics and Biotechnology
Syllabus Bioethics and Biotechnology
Teachers: Professor Baruch Epel
Credits: 3
Course open to: Students in Biotechnology Program (Required course) and students in programs dealing with Food Safety and Security; Students in Environmental Studies; Students from other programs may be accepted after interview with Professor Epel.
Restrictions: 25 students (preference given to Students in Biotechnology Programs and those graduate students from various programs throughout the University dealing with issues of Food Safety and Security).
Semester: Spring semester.
Language: English

Course description: The course will deal with the central moral issues arising from genetic engineering and the new biotechnology, genetically engineered plants and animals, risk analysis, biotechnology patents, research ethics and social responsibility, regulation of biotechnology, biodiversity, and the impact of biotechnology and agrotechnology on society and the environment. Major moral theories will be discussed and applied. The course is discussion intensive. Case studies will be presented and discussed.
Course Goals:
o increase your awareness of the complexity of moral issues related to biotechnology and agrotechnology
o make you more knowledgeable about the reasons (arguments) and theories behind different positions on various moral issues, and improve your ability to articulate those arguments
o improve your ability to give reasoned arguments for and against viewpoints
o increase your ability to think critically about bioethics (both sides of the debates),
o improve your reading, writing and especially critical thinking skills
o teach you to write a case study and a position paper on moral issues that arise from the use or introduction of new biotech products or technologies.
Attendance: mandatory
Grading: participation in class discussions, group presentation projects, and term paper.

Possible topics include:
Cloning; Stem Cell Research
Environmental ethics
Biodiversity
Globalization
The ethics of genetic engineering
Genetically engineered crops
Risk analysis
Risks of releasing GMOs
Labelling and testing of genetically engineered crops
Genetic enhancement
Genetic treatment of diseases
Use of genetically engineered animals for medical research
Genetic engineering and animal welfare
Patents on living organisms and genes
Biopiracy and appropriation of traditional knowledge
WHAT ARE POSSIBLE ETHICAL ISSUES THAT COULD ARISE IN
EMPLOYING BIOTECHNOLOGY?

Possible ethical issues in the genetic engineering of plants and animals:
Is man playing god by creating new species, violating species ethos?
Will Genetically Modified Organisms lead to:
o changes in social structure of farming communities,
o the demise of family farms, lead to migration of farm workers to cities, increase dependence of farmer on large corporations
o Loss of biodiversity in crops
o Change ecological balance
Are GM foods and other products safe to humans and the environment?

Possible ethical issues in the genetic engineering of microbes:
Create monster-microbes that can get out into nature and change the natural microbial ecology (Pseudomonas syringae ice nucleation negative)
Create microbes that will attack natural products and destroy them
Cause new diseases
Genetic engineer microbes for biological warfare which will kill millions.
Engineering Bird flu to be contagious (to publish or not to publish methodology).

Possible ethical issues: research ethics and social responsibility:
Who should have access to personal genetic information, and how will it be used?
Who owns and controls genetic information? How does personal genetic information affect an individual and society's perceptions of that individual?
How does genomic information affect members of minority communities?
How will these technologies affect developing nations' dependence on the West?
Should governments be responsible for new developments and make them available at
: 25
: Course open to: Students in Biotechnology Program (Required course) and students in programs dealing with Food Safety and Security; Students in Environmental Studies; Students from other programs may be accepted after interview with Professor Epel.
:
participation in class discussions, group presentation projects, and term paper.
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