Bioethics Panel

To achieve the vision of Predator Free New Zealand 2050 researchers need to develop novel tools and technologies for cost-effective, landscape-scale control, eradication and surveillance of small mammal pests. However, moving any new control measures from the lab to the landscape will be as much of a social challenge as it is a biological challenge, and researchers need to find ways to include the public early and often in discussing predator control plans, and allowing people to have a say in which methods are deployed.

In response to this need a Bioethics Panel was co-convened by Drs Emily Parke (Philosophy) and James Russell (Biology) from the University of Auckland under the auspices of the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge project investigating High tech solutions to invasive mammal pest control.

The Panel brings together 12 academic, industry and community experts from all walks of life to horizon-scan the social, cultural and ethical issues around the implementation of high tech solutions to invasive mammal pest control. Membership is diverse (gender and culture) and includes representatives with experience in philosophy, law, psychology, marketing, ecology, genetics, hunting, welfare and stewardship.

The Panel had its first meeting from 15-16 June 2017 at the University of Auckland and spent two half days identifying the non-technical issues of invasive mammal pest control. At the conclusion of the meeting the panel agreed that it was important to prepare a Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment style report on the non-technical issues associated with achieving a Predator Free New Zealand.

The work of the BioHeritage Bioethics Panel sits alongside the science advisory panel to PF2050, who at the same time are considering the biological and technical challenges in achieving a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050.

The Panel’s first meeting was reported in Science, New Zealand aims to eradicate invasive predators, but winning public support may be big challenge, and their second meeting is planned for November 2017 again at the University of Auckland.

The Panel intends to present a final report by mid-2018 which will be publicly released and presented.

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