The moral and societal responsibilities of biologists during times of revolution
[Note: The slides are not available from this event.] Advances in the life sciences in the 21st century have the potential to greatly improve the health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment around the globe. While the overwhelming majority of outcomes are beneficial, a small number of discoveries and capabilities pose unusual risks for misuse and widespread harm. New methods and approaches for modifying genomes, selecting new pheontypes, and disseminating new genetic constructs provide cogent examples of benefits and risks. There are several critical but challenging questions that need to be discussed across the international communities of scientists and policy-makers: Are there now experiments in the life sciences that ought not to be undertaken or need greater scrutiny because of unusual associated risks? What should the process by which a consensus is reached about the identification and management of such work? What are the moral and ethical responsibilities of life scientists? What kinds of governance approaches might be most effective for risk mitigation? Despite the challenges, these conversations provide important opportunities for collaboration and partnership across disciplinary, policy community, and international boundaries that ought to be pursued.