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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Propose Ethical Guidelines to Assess GM, GEd Organisms

July 7, 2021

Scientists from Norway came up with a set of guidelines that will evaluate genetically modified (GM) organisms, including genome-edited (GEd) organisms. The guidelines will cover a broad spectrum of principles to ensure that the values from relevant members of society are included.

In their paper, the proposed ethical guidelines will be used as a tool of assessment and will function as a decision aid for the responsible case officer. The guidelines will include both methods and ethical values which will help determine the case officer's justification for the recommendation of his decision. An ethical matrix will serve as a participatory tool for the implementation of the guidelines to assist decision-makers with identifying a broad overview of relevant ethical questions and issues before focusing on the regulation of GMOs. The proposed principles that will be reflected in the matrix include "no harm," "beneficence," "autonomy," and "justice" to be supplemented by the values of "trust," "stewardship," "care," "solidarity," and "naturalness and respect for dignity/integrity."

The scientists recommended that the ethical assessment of a GMO must be carried out according to accepted and transparent methods and must be based on relevant considerations. They stated that the guidelines must avoid judging what is relevant to the public but must cover a wide range of the public's values, reactions, and attitudes towards GMOs to protect democratic values and reflect the stakeholders' perceptions of morality. Furthermore, they recommended that the ethical assessment should be carried out by professionals with competence and practical knowledge of ethical judgments so that all relevant actors will be involved.

Read the full paper in Food Ethics to know more.

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