Workshop on Chemical and Biological Weapons 2013

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These slides were included in a workshop on teaching students about the important ethical questions associated with the use of biological and chemical weapons.

The session was led by Prof Alastair Hay (Leeds). He modelled an approach to teaching ethics. Earlier in the day he had also given a presentation on the same theme (available here: http://www.slideshare.net/cjrw2/alastair-haypresentation2013).

The conference (on teaching about Ethics and Risk) was held at the University of Northampton, UK, in March 2013

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Workshop on Chemical and Biological Weapons 2013

  1. 1. 1 Workshop: Why bother about chemical and biological weapons ? Teaching Ethics to Bioscience Students Northampton 26 March 2013 Alastair Hay
  2. 2. 2 Outreach Work – Introducing ethical issues to chemists
  3. 3. 3 CH CH CH3 NH CH3 OH pseudoephedrine (cough suppressant) CH2 CH CH3 NH CH3 methamphetamine (crystal meth)
  4. 4. 4 Error Misconduct Criminal Wrong observations Wrong analysis Undeclared conflict of interest Curiosity Can (suspect) chemical be made? Suppress knowledge Make it again Sell some Large scale manf. With apologies to M. Nylenna & S. Simansen Lancet 2006; 367: 1882-4 Non- intentional Intentional
  5. 5. 5 Lawful business Taking advantage Illegal Ethical Unethical? Produce 2-Chloroethanol Contracts worldwide Large order – country in a troubled region Is it just business? 2-Chloroethanol feedstock for thiodiglycol Is it still just business? Don’t inform authorities Fulfil order Agree future large supply Fulfil this too
  6. 6. Necessary Dangerous Unquestionable Questionable? Disease eradication Finding transmission routes Identifying agents responsible Infection control Understanding disease mechanisms Developing vaccines for disease control eg polio Determine virus RNA genome Synthesise polio virus using available nucleotides Concern Synthesise smallpox virus? Reconstructing 1918 flu virus Recreation of human endogenous retroviruses
  7. 7. Necessary Dangerous Justifiable Questionable Controlling pests Developing contraceptives Producing contraceptives to control mice Investigating mutations in DNA Changing DNA sequences to understand disease mechanisms Increasing immune responses Inserting IL-4 gene into mousepox virus to increase antibody production Inserting immune response gene into smallpox virus
  8. 8. Necessary Riskier Routine Innovative Treating disease Produce drugs Improving drug delivery Develop injectable drugs Understanding particle deposition in the lungs Develop aerosol inhalable drugs Bypass lung clearance mechanisms Develop better porous inhalable drug uptake
  9. 9. 9 Lawful business Taking advantage Illegal? Ethical Unethical? Supplier of fluorine Large order – country in a troubled region Company makes HF and uses chloroform Is it just business? Chloroform/HF used in manufacture of tetrafluorethylene - PFIB a by-product Is it still just business? Don’t inform authorities Fulfil order Agree future large supply Fulfil this too
  10. 10. 10 Control Manage Closed Open SME manufacturer of solvents Contracts worldwide Use microreactors – you are chemist in charge Owner asks ‘How quick can production be changed?’ Can new product be produced and lines cleaned to leave no traces? Do you provide answer/ask ?’s Just your job / not your business Ask other authorities?
  11. 11. 11 Lawful business Taking advantage Illegal Ethical Unethical? Produce phosphate for export Contracts worldwide Large order – Middle East country It is just business? Phosphate initial feedstock for pesticides, also for nerve agents Is it still just business? Don’t inform authorities Fulfil order Agree future large supply Fulfil this too

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