ECNH reports

Precaution in the environmental field. Ethical requirements for the regulation of new biotechnologies (pdf 1.7 MB), May 2018. The rapid development of new techniques which allow us to selectively alter genetic material and are thus termed genome editing has sparked public discussion about how such biotechnologies are to be regulated.

Freedom of research and biosecurity - Ethical considerations by the example of dual use research of concern, December 2015 (in German and French only)

Ethical treatment of fish (pdf, 2 MB), December 2014 - The demand for edible fish in Switzerland is constantly rising. The majority of the fish consumed in Switzerland, both from wild fisheries and from fish farms, is imported. As in other countries, there are also plans in Switzerland to encourage the breeding and raising of salt-water and freshwater fish in aquaculture for the domestic market.

Release of genetically modified plants – ethical requirements (pdf, 2 MB), August 2012. – There is little argument that releasing genetically modified plants involves risks. Opinion varies on what these risks are and what their consequences might be. What requirements should be imposed on the experimental and commercial release of such plants from an ethical standpoint, and in particular with regard to the ethics of risk? In December 2011 the ECNH presented a statement on these questions at a public event in Bern. The statement was well received, although it did come in for some criticism. In response to certain aspects of this criticism, the ECNH decided to clarify its considerations regarding the issues discussed in this report.

Synthetic biology - Ethical considerations (pdf, 1.43 MB), report, May 2010

The dignity of living beings with regard to plants. Moral consideration of plants for their own sake (pdf, 2.45 MB) - The Federal Constitution has three forms of protection for plants: the protection of biodiversity, species protection, and the duty to take the dignity of living beings into consideration when handling plants. The constitutional term "living beings" encompasses animals, plants and other organisms. At legislative level, the Gene Technology Act limits the scope of the term to animals and plants.

Research  on Primates -  an ethical Evaluation (pdf, 1.3 MB) - Report by the Swiss Committee on Animal Experiments (SCAE) and the Swiss Ethics Committee on Non Human Biotechnology (ECNH) published in May 2006.

Gene Technology and Developing Countries (pdf, 2.1 MB) - Booklet published in September 2004. While supporters of gene technology welcome its promotion as a means of fighting hunger in developing and newly industrialised countries, detractors warn against the negative consequences of this technology in such countries. Both camps regard themselves as advocates of people in the "South".

Gene Technology for Food (pdf, 765 KB) - Booklet published in March 2003. Ethical considerations for the marketing of genetically modified foodstuffs and animal feed.

Patents on animals and plants (pdf, 55 KB) - A contribution to discussion, published in December 2001. The currently applicable regulations on patenting exclude the patenting of plant varieties and animal species. Patents on animals and plants are permissible. The possibility of patenting inventions derived from living organisms has been the subject of public controversy for some time. The ECNH has therefore taken on the task of summarizing the arguments raised in the public arena and presenting its own preliminary considerations for discussion.

The dignity of animals (pdf, 788 KB) - Booklet published in February 2001 (reprint of October 2008). The aim of the two Committees (cooperation between the ECNH and the Federal Committee on Animal Experiments/EKTV) is to contribute, from an ethical and a practical perspective, to the public debate on the relationship between humans and animals in general and on the ethically acceptable handling of animals in particular. Proposals are made on how humans' handling of animals is to be regulated with regard to the dignity of creation in the Animal Protection Law.

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Last edition: 02.09.2019

Contact

Secretariat ECNH
ekah(at)bafu.admin.ch
Tel.: +41 (0)58 463 83 83

Postal address

Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology ECNH
c/o Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)
CH-3003 Bern
Switzerland

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CH-3003 Bern

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Series of the ECNH

Expert reports commissioned by the ECNH which are of interest to a wider audience are published (in the original language) in a series entitled «Contributions to Ethics and Biotechnology». These reports provide a basis for consideration of the ethical aspects of biotechnology and serve as working papers for the ECNH.