The rDNA Debate

The rDNA Policy Makers

Historical Events in the rDNA Debate

Genetic Engineering Issues Today


Recombinant DNA Debate Overheads

Recombinant DNA Debate WWW Links

Genetic Topics

The rDNA Policy Makers

When considering any issue it is important to determine which individuals will be involved.  The ultimate decision is what authority that will grant the responsibility to the individual who will give the go-ahead to new and controversial scientific procedures.  Relevant questions to ask are:

  • Should only the knowledgeable discuss and settle issues before the public is involved?
  • What input should a non-scientist have when it is unknown to what extent their lives will be affected by the new technology?
  • What input is necessary if a non-scientist does not understand the technical issues involved?

Conventional wisdom suggests scientists and administrators should decide. These individuals are considered to be the conventional decision makers.  Hopefully the public may have an input into the initial decision making process.  In the best case, the scientist and administrators know what is best for society as a whole.  More and more, those at risk (from a process or a product) are demanding a say in the decision-making process.

The conventional decision makers will be confronted with several issues that will challenge their authority. What are these factors that challenge the conventional decision makers?

  • The virtue of having those at risk be involved in decision-making
  • Historical autonomy of scientists; but should this continue w/ public financial support of research?
  • Challenges to the legitimacy of current decision-making organizations are based on
  • University/industrial financial interdependency
  • Intense competition within science
  • Each could lead to decision made for the individual not public good.
  • Realization that science is not ethically neutral
Copyright © 1997. Phillip McClean