Swiss Federal Ethics Commission for Non-human Biotechnology (EKAH) on the evaluation of new breeding technologies.

Environmental precautions. Ethical Requirements for the regulation of new (Bio-)Technologies. Prevention in the environmental sector – ethical requirements for the Regulation of new biotechnologies

The development of so-called genome editing – i.e. new methods that enable selectivegenetic engineering – is progressing rapidly. For applications in the field ofenvironment, the competent authorities refer to the precautionary principle under environmental law.They therefore comply with the strict legal requirements that apply to genetic engineering,is currently also justified for these new biotechnological processes. Othercriticize that the precautionary principle restricts research and development inadmissibly. TheFederal Ethics Committee for Non-human Biotechnology (ECNH)concludes in its reportthat the precautionary idea is ethically justified andmust therefore be consistently strengthened and implemented.The precautionary principle has emerged from the legal and political discussion and hashas been internationally established since the Rio Declaration of 1992. The core idea of pension provision isfor two reasons.First, damage of a certain quality should not occur.Secondly, if something can be done to mediate or contain them, this should also be done.even if the probabilityof suchdamage occurring is uncertain.The development of genome editing has triggered a new controversial discussion, such as theapplication of such procedures in the environment should be regulated. After years of debate.Parliament passed the Genetic Engineering Act in 2003. This is based on theand provides for strict approval procedures for the application ofgenetic engineering in the non-human area. Some argue that some of the newProcedures are to be excluded from these authorisation procedures for genetic engineering methods,either because the changes in theresult are no longer detectable in the product, or it is,because such changes could also be caused by natural mutations. You can rely on theprecautionary principle cannot be rationally justified in this context. Others stop onprecautionary ideas. The handling of these new technologies in the environmental sector isare just as much characterised by uncertainty and gaps in knowledge as the conventionalBiotechnologies. This uncertainty is connected with the plausible fear that insystems such as those of the environment, even possible small changes are too muchcould cause serious damage.In its report, the ECNH discusses the different ethical justification approaches of theprecautionary idea. The members come to the conclusion that the precautionary ideaethically justified, irrespective of the approach chosen, and therefore has to be taken into account in the regulation technologies must be consistently strengthened and implemented in the environment.Furthermore, the members agree that pension situations are a reversal of the burden of justify: Those whose actions give reason to fear serious harm mustplausibly demonstrate that such damage is extremely unlikely and scientificallyis absurd. The precautionary concept also allows for a comprehensive duty of reduce uncertainty. This with the aim of creating newprocedures to enable an appropriate risk assessment. The ECNH regards it asfirstly, the trustworthiness of risk assessments by science and industry.authorities and on the other hand to improve the political awareness in dealing with newtechnologies and the associated uncertainties.