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The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 1, 2007

Ethics

Mary Richardson
Pages 269-274
DOI: 10.5840/wcp2120071303

"Challenged Forth by the Need for Paper"
Ethical Aspects of Genetic Modification of Trees

Genetic modification of trees has the potential to change our forests forever, yet there has been little publicly available information or debate on this important topic. Ethical analysis of genetic modification of plants to date has been focussed mainly on food and feed crops and pharmaceutical production. The purpose of this paper is to examine one major ethical issue arising in connection with the genetic modification of trees, the necessity to examine the practice in its full scientific, social, economic, political and environmental context. It is argued that if this is not done, important factors that play a role in a through ethical critique will be overlooked. The analysis focuses mainly on the Canadian situation, but there are implications for other timber-producing nations as well. The paper concludes that a thorough ethical critique must take into account the ends for which biotechnology is being pursued.