Ethics Frontiers in Genetics

The advancements of technology always go hand in hand with potential risks and ethical problems, which have always been a point of concern for Tartu TUIT iGEM team (Estonia iGEM).

That is why, in collaboration with Erasmus Student Network (ESN), we organized a panel discussion “Ethics Frontiers in Genetics” combined with a science movie (Genesis 2.0) night, a public event where experts in both biosciences and philosophy discussed the possible issues with GMO usage in different fields and analyzed how the quickly developing synthetic biology could affect both humans and the environment.

The main speaker of the event was Tartu_TUIT Primary PI, Professor of Molecular Systems Biology, one of the creators of Science&Technology bachelor’s and Bioengineering master’s programs – professor Mart Loog. For the panel discussion, we also invited specialists from different fields in order to look at the topic from different angles.

The audience was nearly two times larger than we had expected! Despite the fact Tartu TUIT team could hardly fit the audience into the hall, we were happy to see so many people interested in this topic.

Professor Mart Loog has started the event with a speech about the fast development and the impact of synthetic biology in our life.
During the panel discussion, our guests touched all of the aspects of ethics in genetics: from the safety of genetic material collection to cloning and editing of humans. The audience had a great chance to see the way specialists from different fields are looking at the past, present, and future of synthetic biology and related ethics.
After the panel discussion, the audience had a chance to ask questions from our guests and we all were happy to see a lot of people being captivated by the topic, ready to continue the debate.
In the second part of the event, we showed the movie “Genesis 2.0” by the Oscar-nominated director Christian Frei. The movie explores the same topic (notably, the movie tells about iGEM competition as well)!
This event was of great importance for Tartu TUIT team since it is crucial for every scientist to consider ethical issues, as science needs to be understood and accepted by the general public.

We have received great feedback from both our audience and guests and hope to return to this format again in the closest future!