Tag: ecology

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The Ethics of Climate Change Activism: Fear vs. Reality

Image via NASA

STUDENT VOICES

By: Chelsea Zantay

This essay is in response to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs video clip “Global Ethics Forum: Ethics Matter: A Conversation with Bill McKibben.”  

Often when a problem is too big or too scary we throw up our hands and announce that “there is nothing we can do” to solve it.  Admittedly, climate change feels like one of those problems.  It seems like a quagmire of depressing facts and statistics.  It is now scientific fact that the polar ice caps are melting, our oceans are rising and becoming more acidic, and if we do not curb our consumption of fossil fuels, our planet will be rendered unlivable.  The plethora of disturbing information on climate change is enough to cause anyone to have a sleepless night or make them wish they had never heard the truth about our warming planet.  However, ostriches with their heads buried in the sand do not get much done, and once you know some truth, you cannot un-know it.  And so the question at hand is not “is climate change happening?” for that question has been answered in the affirmative (although climate change deniers would like to see this issue removed from our national political discourse).  The question right now is “what are we going to do about it, if anything?”

Bill McKibben, environmental scientist and founder of 350.org, has spent his career writing about climate change and mobilizing communities as an activist for the cause. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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On Deanthropologizing Anthropology — An Essay on Tarek Elhaik’s “The Incurable Image” by Tobias Rees

“Are cultural anthropologists ready to shed their habit of using society and culture? (…) No, I don’t feel so. (…) It seems to me that many anthropologists wish to keep the human (…). There is a tricky problem here: concentrating around the human could mean either maintaining this character apart from other entities — the former beings of ‘nature’ defining by contrast what could be called the ‘humanistic’ position —, or it could mean accepting that, as soon as you take the human into consideration, it is suddenly redistributed (not disintegrated, that’s the whole point, but redistributed) in many other roles and connections that make its earlier figurations unrecognizable.”

Bruno Latour

 

1.

Could one deanthropologize anthropology? Is it possible to differentiate anthropology, science of the human, from the figure of ‘Man’ as it emerged in the 18th century and made anthropology possible (Foucault 1966)?

At first these questions may sound bizarre — and an anthropology journal an odd choice for asking them. However, the will to leave the human behind is a prominent feature of what one could call contemporary anthropologies of nature. The reference here is largely to the so-called ontological turn (for reviews see Kohn 2015; Boellstorff 2016) and multi-species anthropology (Helmreich and Kirksey 2010; Kirksey 2014).[1]

 

2.

Admittedly, I find the writings of the multi-species anthropologists and the ontologists — the two groups are best kept separate, precisely insofar as many of the former are not actually ontologists at all — hugely fascinating: I find myself intrigued by the effort to break free from ‘the human.’

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Beyond Miracles: How Traditional Chinese Medicine Establishes Professional Legitimacy in Post-colonial Macau by Loretta I.T. Lou

[Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article appeared in Imponderabilia: The International Student Anthropology Journal (2014). This piece is updated with new data and photos collected between 2015 and 2016.]

In Search of Reclusive Doctors (xunzhao yin shi yishu) was the first Chinese TV documentary about medical miracles “made” by doctors of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). When it was first broadcasted in 2001, it evoked great public interest in the Pearl River Delta region. In exalting the Chinese doctors’ miraculous power to save people on their deathbeds, the documentary paradoxically placed great emphasis on the scientific validity of TCM and folk medicine. In line with this, Mei Zhan’s ethnographic study of TCM doctors in Shanghai and San Francisco also found that the legitimacy of traditional Chinese medicine is built upon its ability to treat difficult cases (Zhan 2001:454). She argues that TCM doctors have used “miracle-making” to “craft a niche for traditional Chinese medicine within a biomedicine-centered health care system. The everyday practice and discourse of traditional Chinese medicine has come to be a site for the ‘production of the extraordinary’” (Ibid).

In an environment where TCM is in fierce competition with biomedicine, it is understandable that some TCM practitioners feel they have to establish their legitimacy through miracle-making. However, my research in Macau suggests a different story. A former colony of Portugal (1557-1999), Macau was returned to the People’s Republic of China in 1999 and is now a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the PRC. Although Macau had the first Western-style hospital in Asia, it was not until 1984 when the Macau-Portuguese government finally reformed its health care system and established a public health network composed of a government hospital and a dozens of community health centers.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Discussing “Suffering Slot Anthropology” with Migrant Farm Workers by Seth Holmes

This article first appeared on Anthropology News.

I have had the honor many times to present together with Triqui Mexican migrant farmworkers who have shaped my thinking and writing. These presentations have been planned collaboratively. Sometimes they involved my presenting a formal paper followed by a response from farmworkers. Other times they took the form of a conversation during which I interviewed my farmworker co-presenters, they interviewed me, the audience asked us questions and then we asked the audience questions. These presentations attempted to destabilize the producer and object of knowledge, the expert, the informant, and the respondent (while, in other ways of course, these positions were solidified).

During preparations for our presentation for the 2016 Association of American Geographers meeting, several Triqui farmworkers and I discussed the recent anthropological debates on suffering. In 2013, Joel Robbins, called for an end to what he terms, borrowing from Michel Trouillot, “suffering slot anthropology” and a move toward what he calls an “anthropology of the good.” Joseph Hankins posits a different, yet related dichotomy, suggesting anthropologists should utilize a framework he denotes “ecology” to elucidate connections instead of a representation of suffering that he sees as engaged to build an empathic bridge between the reader and the other in hopes for social change. More recently, Sherry Ortner attempts to patch together this dichotomy she frames as “dark anthropology and its others.”

Francisco Ventura, Armando Celestino, Miguel Ventura, Isidro Silva, Elio Santos and Seth Holmes standing in front of a San Francisco BART station after presenting together at the Association of American Geographers. Photo

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Now Accepting Applications: Fordham University’s Master’s Degree in Ethics and Society and the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute

Master’s Degree in Ethics and Society: Spring 2017

The Master of Arts in Ethics and Society provides students with a solid grounding in moral theory and ethical practice in fields such as philosophy, theology, bioethics, research ethics, business and law.

Preparation for:
– Doctoral programs in the humanities and biological and social sciences
– Professional degree programs in medicine and law
– Employment in a variety of fields including government, nonprofit, academia, business, and healthcare)

Engage in practicum experiences throughout the New York Metropolitan Area at:
– St. Barnabas Hospital
– Global Bioethics Initiative
– Generation Citizen
– Fordham University Institutional Review Board
– Families and Work Institute
– And more

Take courses tailored to your interests with course work in:
– Philosophy
– Law
– Psychology
– Ecology
– Theology
– Political Science
– Economics
– Social Work
– Business
– Communications and Media
– And more

ASSISTANTSHIPS WITH STIPEND AND TUITION REMISSION OF OVER $11,000 AVAILABLE FOR SPRING REGISTRATION!

Students are admitted on a rolling basis. For spring admission, please apply by late November.

Visit fordham.edu/ethicsandsociety to apply or contact the Director, Dr. Celia B. Fisher at fisher@fordham.edu for more information.


Fellowship Opportunity for NIDA-Funded HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute: Summer 2017

Now in its sixth year, the Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) is now accepting applications for the 2017 Summer Institute and Mentored Research Program.

This NIDA-funded program, directed by Center for Ethics Education Director and Principal Investigator, Dr. Celia B. Fisher, provides early career investigators in the social, behavioral, medical and public health fields with an opportunity to gain research ethics training.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Genome editing – the key ethical issues

Written by Dr Christopher Gyngell

This article originally appeared on the OMS website

The Nuffield Council of Bioethics released a report last Friday outlining the key ethical issues raised by genome editing technologies.

Genome editing (GE) is a powerful, and extremely rapidly developing technology. It uses engineered enzymes to make precise, controlled modification to DNA. It has the potential to radically transform many industries, including medicine, agriculture and ecology.  Despite only being developed in the past few years’, GE has already been used to create malaria-fighting mosquitoes, drought resistant wheat, hornless cows and cancer killing immune cells. The potential applications of GE in a decade are difficult to imagine. It raises a wide range of ethical issues that require careful scrutiny.

The Nuffield Council of Bioethics has formed a working group to analyse these issues. Their report titled “Genome editing: an ethical review”, is the first output of this working group.  It is a mapping project which identifies the major ethical issues arising from GE.

The report identifies several areas of GE that raise pressing ethical issues.  GE for human reproduction, and GE in livestock, are classed as requiring ‘urgent’ attention. GE for the purposes of xenotransplantation, and to alter wild populations of mosquitoes (and other disease causing animals), are classed as requiring attention ‘in the near future’.

It is unsurprising that genome editing for human reproduction is listed as requiring urgent attention. It has been at the centre of public debates about GE since scientists used the technology to alter human embryos for the first time last year.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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In the Journals — September 2016, part II by Aaron Seaman

And, now, part two of September’s journal posting! (Part one is here.)

Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“I Hope I Get Movie-star Teeth”: Doing the Exceptional Normal in Orthodontic Practice for Young People

Anette Wickström

Orthodontics offer young people the chance to improve their bite and adjust their appearances. The most common reasons for orthodontic treatment concern general dentists’, parents’ or children’s dissatisfaction with the esthetics of the bite. My aim is to analyze how esthetic norms are used during three activities preceding possible treatment with fixed appliances. The evaluation indexes signal definitiveness and are the essential grounds for decision-making. In parallel, practitioners and patients refer to self-perceived satisfaction with appearances. Visualizations of divergences and the improved future bite become part of an interactive process that upholds what I conceptualize as “the exceptional normal.” Insights into this process contribute to a better understanding of how medical practices intended to measure and safeguard children’s and young people’s health at the same time mobilize patients to look and feel better. The article is based on an ethnographic study at two orthodontic clinics.

Huichol Migrant Laborers and Pesticides: Structural Violence and Cultural Confounders (open access)

Jennie Gamlin

Every year, around two thousand Huichol families migrate from their homelands in the highlands of northwestern Mexico to the coastal region of Nayarit State, where they are employed on small plantations to pick and thread tobacco leaves. During their four-month stay, they live, work, eat, and sleep in the open air next to the tobacco fields, exposing themselves to an unknown cocktail of pesticides all day, every day.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Hateful politics infiltrate human genome editing debate in France

A recent campaign calling for a ban on “transgenic” human embryos was launched by one of France’s most prominent organizations fighting for “science”-backed “one-man-one-woman” families, and the exclusion of all other forms.

“Stop GMO Baby: Yes to therapeutic progress, no to transgenic embryos” (image via Alliance VITA).

Since March 24, more than 15,500 people in France have signed a Change.org petition started by Alliance VITA declaring (translated from French*):

“I ask my country to engage with all urgency to obtain an international moratorium – that is to say an immediate stop – on the genetic modification of human embryos, especially via the technique CRISPR-cas9.”

*all French materials and quotations presented in English in this post have been translated using Google and my college-level French. Suggested revisions to translations are welcome and will be noted. Alliance VITA offers some materials on its website in English.

In that time, volunteers have canvassed cities around France, handing out brochures explaining the breakthrough CRISPR genome editing technology, and tweeting pictures of their advocacy using Flickr and the hashtags: #StopBébéOGM, #ProtectHumanity, and #CRISPR-Cas9.

Alliance VITA’s opposition to using human gene editing for reproduction is widely shared, including by my organization, the Center for Genetics and Society. But a closer look at the Stop GMO Baby campaign in France reveals a troubling and at times explicitly hateful politics infiltrating the human genome editing debate. A polarization of the conversation about heritable human genetic modification along “right to life” and “natural family” fault lines threatens to derail public conversations about responsible regulation of science and medicine that serves the public interest.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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The Catch-22 of Bayh-Dole March-In Rights

Earlier today, the NIH rejected a request filed by consumer groups including Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) to exercise the government’s march-in rights on an expensive prostate cancer drug, Xtandi.  Xtandi costs upwards of $129,000 per year, and KEI had asked … Continue reading

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Eight Quick Thoughts on the NAS Gene Drive Report

Hank Greely

Gene drives, which use genome editing (and especially CRISPR/Cas9) to push edited variations of genes through whole populations at great speed, are perhaps the most exciting and frightening products of new biotechnologies, giving humans more control than ever over all life on Earth. Gene drives had been talked about in theory for about fifty years, but the first demonstration of a gene drive was not until early 2015. Yet, because of its (justly) perceived importance, it has already led to a National Academy of Sciences report (perhaps setting a world land speed record). The Report, Gene Drives on the Horizon: Advancing Science, Navigating Uncertainty, and Aligning Research with Public Values is available for free download here.  I have read the summary and recommendations carefully and have skimmed the rest. Eight points stand out to me.

One – The Report is useful. It sets out the background facts of gene drives and analyzes helpfully many of the issues they raise. I am pleased that it calls for continued research. I am also pleased that it calls for (great) care in releases and for public consultation in individual cases. And I am pleased that it does not entirely rule out (careful) use. A moratorium, though tempting, would not have been justified.

Two – Phased testing, which the Report endorses, may work in specific locations but that will depend powerfully on the organism, ecology, and other circumstances. Assessing those situations carefully will be, as the Report says, both difficult and crucial. Setting out either more detailed guidance for that testing, or proposing an entity to lay out such guidance, would have been nice.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.