In the Washington Watch article in the February issue of BioScience, Natalie Dawson explores the status of ethics training for biological scientists. An excerpt from the article follows:

The philosophical exploration of ethical concerns in the life sciences—“bioethics”—has focused largely on research protocols involving research subjects in medical studies. Now, however, the application of biotechnology to environmental problems is triggering ethical questions.

Today’s scientists confront this question: “Can an understanding of climatic processes associated with global warming help us understand the sociological implications of how humans relate to the natural world?” They must also deal with other such questions that are outside the traditional framework of human/medical bioethics but pertinent to the growing interdisciplinary applications of the natural sciences to the solution of environmental problems. Holmes Rolston, at Colorado State University, says buzzwords in bioethics now include “sustainability, biodiversity, global warming, and intrinsic values in nature.” What are the implications of these and other topics for training scientists in contemporary ethics for research outside human health and medical programs?

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