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Emerging Biotechnologies: technology, choice and the public good

Calvert, J   Moran, M.

December 2012

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Summary of Introduction

1. This report falls into two parts. The first identifies features and challenges that are common among emerging biotechnologies, and develops an ethical approach for responding to these. It shows that 'emerging biotechnologies' are, in reality, a diverse collection of research programmes, forms of knowledge and techniques, although they encounter similar issues when they confront the practical conditions of research and innovation systems. On one hand, we distinguish'emerging biotechnologies from established biotechnologies or those in later phases of development by highlighting the particular problems attached to 'emergence'. On the other hand, we distinguish emerging bio technologies from other emerging technologies by virtue of the particular issues of public interest they raise.

2. The second part of the report examines how these features of emerging biotechnologies generate difficulties within a number of different contexts – research, policy, regulation and business – and how responses to these, in turn, shape their emergence. It suggests how the ethical approach developed in the first part might be used to improve the integration of these contexts with each other and with otherwise excluded perspectives, in order to improve the ethical quality of biotechnology governance.