Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

September 13, 2000

Philosopher to explore ethical issues related to biotechnology

The University of Guelph has appointed David Castle assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy with a formal affiliation with the university's Food System Biotechnology Centre (FSBC).

Castle's FSBC duties will primarily involve the identification and assessment of ethical issues posed by research and development of emerging genomics technologies, including genetically engineered foods.

"Biotechnology is a fascinating area that evokes emotional responses on both sides of the debate," says Castle. "Philosophical analysis of these issues will bring them into rational focus and will help us chart a course toward their resolution. I think we can anticipate heightened public scrutiny of the development and approval of genetically modified foods the kind of attention that has led to the establishment of the Royal Society of Canada's Expert Panel on Food Safety and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent announcement that it will review its GM food approvals process. With its agri-food strengths and commitments, industry connections and partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the University of Guelph will play a major role in the GMO debate."

The University of Guelph is a nationally recognized leader in agri-food research and teaching. The FSBC is a cross-campus collaborative venture that involves more than 70 researchers in 12 departments.

"Biotechnology and genomics are and will be crucial areas of human inquiry in the coming decades," says Prof. Larry Milligan, vice-president (research). "The potential is unlimited, but in a sense, we are also on new ground. There are potential pitfalls but also tremendous potential benefits. Progress must be made not merely for the sake of progress, but also to serve our world in a responsible, conscientious manner. This is one of the reasons that at a very early stage in the application process for the Food System Biotechnology Centre, we identified the need for a bioethicist who could form an integral part of the research process, offer insight from an independent point of view, putting science's potential in an ethical, logical and societal context. I'm absolutely delighted with David Castle's appointment to the Department of Philosophy and with the important role he will play with FSBC."

Castle, who completed his PhD at Guelph in 1998 on the philosophy of biology, says his research and teaching duties will focus on the growing interplay between science and society as it occurs in the process of GMO research and development, industry input, government regulations and consumer risk and choice.

Prof. David Castle Department of Philosophy 519-824-4120, Ext. 3222

For more information, contact Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 6982.

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