(GJ) While food is certified USDA Organic, the USDA does not inspect farmers. Instead the USDA accredits certification companies. In 2008 the USDA placed 15 of the 30 acccredition certifiers on probation. Should the USDA hold any liability if the certification companies continue to certify products which do not meet the federal standards 7 CFR 205?(PYS): Current patent laws give inventors the right to exclude others from "making, using, or selling" the invention, and may sue for damages if the infringer does make, use, or sell the invention. What happens if a third party obtains a patented transgenic plant/animal (i.e. a goat that produces milk with useful human proteins), keeps it a secret until the patent expires, and then reaps the benefits of that transgenic plant/animal? Does "holding" the property constitute infringement?
(DF) The Prince of Wales waded into the biotech
debate a few years ago, vowing in a column in The Daily
that he would never eat, or serve to his guests, the fruits of a
technology that "takes mankind into realms that belong to God
God alone." Does it follow that regulation of agricultural
would, in the U.S., violate the first amendment? How does one
that judgement in an issue where the regulation can be, and is,
defended on both religious and secular grounds?
(DF) Suppose genetic testing develops to the
point where employers routinely look at a variety of genetic
characteristics in deciding whether to hire someone. Different
racial groups have different distributions of some genetic
characteristics. If an employer uses genetic criteria that are
met by 60% of whites and 50% of blacks, is he guilty of racial
(PYS): If genetic testing could determine
and intelligence at birth, should a child who is likely to live
and be extremely bright be afforded better educational and
resources than a child who is likely to die young and have only
average intelligence since the former will benefit society more
the long term? Do we already do this to a certain degree?
(DF) How should intellectual property law adjust as progress in biotechnology makes the process more like engineering and less like plant breeding? For example, should (does) the law recognize a patent on an idea in plant or animal design--a way of modifying the organism to produce some desirable feature? This would go beyond present plant patents, which merely protect a particular variety, to cover new varieties produced by someone else applying the same idea.
Bioengineers have already created transgenic plants and
animals which possess certain advantageous traits from
different species. What if bioengineers could create new and
improved "versions" of endangered species that could withstand
the environmental pollution/destruction that was causing their
extinction. Should such plants and animals count as to whether
a species is entitled to protection under the Endangered
(DF) Suppose the relevant conventions are repealed and advanced biological warfare becomes one more weapon among many. A tailored disease is created which targets particular genotypes. It will predictably kill half of the population of the country we are at war with--and 100,000 Americans, mostly the descendants of immigrants from that country. Does its use raise either legal or moral problems beyond those that apply to any military tactic expected to result in some casualties among those using it--nuclear weapons that generate fallout some of which will blow onto friendly territory, for instance, or bombing enemy forces very close to friendly forces.
Links for Non-human Biotech
Legal research from previous years on genetic
engineering , lasik
surgery and hand transplants, genetic
biotech in the third world.
Jonathan Lyvere's research
on regulation of agricultural biotech.
Stan Chang's research
on healthcare privacy law.
Kristie Weber's research
for this year on the regulation of functional food.
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