Philosophy & Ethics

Some biologists resist the idea of intelligence in evolution because they are in a culture war against religious opponents who believe descent with modification was guided by a higher being. By being forced to abandon terms in response to encroachment by a few in the religious movement, they are missing the point that evolution is intelligent by its very nature; evolution 'learns' by experience, that is what survival of the fitter means.

Assisted dying may become legal in Canada on Feb. 6, 2016 and given that country's recent lurch to one side of the political spectrum, doctors are worried that a more social authoritarian government will penalize then if they have conscientious objections to assisted dying.

Dr. John Fletcher, Editor-in-Chief of CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) argues that just as physicians in Canada are currently allowed to opt out of referring pregnant women for abortion, so too must a similar option be available in the case of referrals for assisted death.

In the 1970s, scientists used genetic modification to insert the gene for human insulin production into yeast and bacteria cells. They turned those cells into tiny insulin factories, meaning insulin no longer had to be created from animal pancreases, which created allergy issues. This was a breakthrough for science and two generations of people have benefited from this GMO insulin.

More than half (53 percent) of U.S. consumers want to know what’s in their DNA, according to a new survey, yet only 7 percent of respondents say that their doctor has discussed genetic screening with them.

The nationwide survey, conducted by marketing research company ORC International among a representative sample of 1,020 adults, explored knowledge of and attitudes toward genetic testing among adult consumers. The strong interest in genetic screening that is evident from the survey can be attributed to a variety of factors, but may point to an interest among consumers in using genetic screening to be more proactive about their healthcare.

Now that so many teenagers have smartphones equipped with cameras it’s inevitable that they’re used to take pictures, sometimes regrettable pictures, and to share them with others. The problem is that this is not just often regrettable in their own eyes, but also illegal in the eyes of the law.

A 14-year-old boy who took a naked selfie and sent it to a girl at school that he’d been flirting with recently found himself in hot water with his school and with the police. Both his and the girl’s details have been added to a police intelligence database for making and distributing an indecent image. Indecent because, as an image of a minor, it’s classified as child pornography under the Protection of Children Act 1978.

Research undertaken on beagles and the contraceptive pill in the 1970s was found to be fabricated - there never were any beagles. Flickr/Understanding Animal Research, CC BY-SA

By Mark Israel, University of Western Australia

There are a few things you might need for an experiment involving beagles and the side effects of contraceptive pills. Animal research ethics aside, beagles might be a good start.

 Spies program at IWM London There is a dark undercurrent to Indiana's school culture, according to a recent statement, and it's created a secret smuggling web where young children acquire and trade illegal items.

The good news: The illegal items aren't marijuana or heroin.

The strange news: It's salt.
Ongoing developments in stem cell science mean that researchers often have no idea how, one year down the line, they will use specimens of human biological material.

But when a scientist takes a swab of your saliva, a sample of your blood or a piece of your skin to research a particular disease, how do you know that it’s going to be used for the intended purpose? And when it is used for research in a different condition, can you take any action? This is where informed consent comes in.

Australian guidelines for the ethical use of IVF allow selecting a child’s sex for medical reasons. But draft guidelines that are now open for public submissions raise the possibility of extending this and allowing the choice for social reasons.

Based on the furor currently engulfing the US, you might imagine that the use of fetal tissue is illegal. But in fact the collection and use of cells obtained from a human fetus following miscarriage or abortion has a long history in medical science.