Bioethics has focused on the human species and on issues related to the medical practice –euthanasia, organ transplant, AIDS, death. These issues are currently expanded by introducing the questions of cloning, foetal rights etc. There is an urgent need to further expand the field by introducing the environment as a major component of bioethics. “Bios” –life– is the key word in the term “bioethics.” Bioethics should therefore include environmental issues, as well as a re-evaluation of the concepts of space and our place in the universe. The micro- and macro-environment are cases in point. In the macro-environment, we are endowed with the gift of life. We have not yet found life on other planets, and we may never do. Therefore, the continuity of life on earth is the most important ethical issue and should be treated as such.

The core concept of bioethics is precisely that: to promote the continuity of life. As humans, we have become anthropocentric and pretentious. We have lost all perspective of time. We must understand time as the hundreds of millions of years in which life, bios, has evolved. We are confronted with the paradox that life is an eternity and a second within eternity at the same time. In terms of time, the evolution of life has occurred over hundreds of millions of years. In this evolutionary scheme, human life represents only the tiniest fraction. If we compare the evolution of life on our planet to a 24-hour day, the appearance of human beings has occurred only during the last few seconds. However, in the course of a single human life-span every moment is like an eternity, if we are to consider that trillions of reactions, like protein synthesis, take place every second with the highest symmetry.

We cannot talk about the bioethical aspects for the new millennium just in terms of human existence. How are we going to give a satisfactory answer? How are we going to come to a balanced conclusion when society itself is unbalanced? Scientific progress, the new technologies, the human genome project, the procedures that allow prenatal diagnosis, etc., have given us tremendous power to look for future solutions to today’s problems. However, we have let this power develop in an uncontrolled fashion. We have witnessed how technology and progress in science have brought about a degradation of the individual as a social being. This has had many negative consequences. We must take advantage of the positive elements of scientific and technological progress so as to improve the human condition in all regards, both biological and social.

Consequently, bioethics societies like SIBI are morally bound to educate the public in the need to implement new educational systems, strongly based on bioethical values. The message of preserving the continuity of bios, the continuity of life and the appreciation of the gift of life, should constitute the nucleus and framework of all future actions. We know that there are many threats to life. One of them is environmental damage on a global level. Experts say that the dramatic and progressive degradation of the environment will destroy life sooner or later. All the bioethical aspects we have been discussing will be worthless if we are not able to focus on linking our existence to environmental preservation. We must also acknowledge the relationship that exists between the protection of the human species, the protection of the environment and the protection of all the other elements that make up the universal ecosystem. Otherwise, in the not so very distant future, life as we understand it will be over. We all know that if we keep up the current pace of environmental destruction there will be no millennium, no life. We cannot let our children inherit a wasteland planet, even if scientific and technological progress make it possible to preserve biological life.

Based on the need for life on our planet to continue, environmental issues must penetrate every educational system, academic discipline and profession. Bioethics needs to become the active search for millennium values capable of harnessing the effects of science and promoting a new moral code in every profession. Bioethics is the “new ethics” for the millennium.

The SIBI millennium conference must incorporate as may fields as possible. We should not limit ourselves to medicine, but search for bioethical values in every vocation. If we do not acknowledge that all fields are interrelated, we will reduce the chance of expanding our vision for the millennium and will limit ourselves to redefining issues of the past.

I think that bioethics has to expand on the concept of profit. We have forgotten that profit can have cultural as well as economic dimensions, and should therefore include provisions for a better quality of life, progress in medicine, public health, etc. Currently, the concept of profit is only understood in economic terms. Bioethics must transform the popular concept of profit into a new, three-dimensional concept that represents a field open to study. We must be able to determine, quantify and rank how much of this profit is applicable to health, security, quality of life, etc.

MINUTES Nº 2

GIJÓN (Spain), Scientific Committee Meetings on 27th and 28th November 1998Bioethics has focused on the human species and on issues related to the medical practice –euthanasia, organ transplant, AIDS, death. These issues are currently expanded by introducing the questions of cloning, foetal rights etc. There is an urgent need to further expand the field by introducing the environment as a major component of bioethics. “Bios” –life– is the key word in the term “bioethics.” Bioethics should therefore include environmental issues, as well as a re-evaluation of the concepts of space and our place in the universe. The micro- and macro-environment are cases in point. In the macro-environment, we are endowed with the gift of life. We have not yet found life on other planets, and we may never do. Therefore, the continuity of life on earth is the most important ethical issue and should be treated as such.

The core concept of bioethics is precisely that: to promote the continuity of life. As humans, we have become anthropocentric and pretentious. We have lost all perspective of time. We must understand time as the hundreds of millions of years in which life, bios, has evolved. We are confronted with the paradox that life is an eternity and a second within eternity at the same time. In terms of time, the evolution of life has occurred over hundreds of millions of years. In this evolutionary scheme, human life represents only the tiniest fraction. If we compare the evolution of life on our planet to a 24-hour day, the appearance of human beings has occurred only during the last few seconds. However, in the course of a single human life-span every moment is like an eternity, if we are to consider that trillions of reactions, like protein synthesis, take place every second with the highest symmetry.

We cannot talk about the bioethical aspects for the new millennium just in terms of human existence. How are we going to give a satisfactory answer? How are we going to come to a balanced conclusion when society itself is unbalanced? Scientific progress, the new technologies, the human genome project, the procedures that allow prenatal diagnosis, etc., have given us tremendous power to look for future solutions to today’s problems. However, we have let this power develop in an uncontrolled fashion. We have witnessed how technology and progress in science have brought about a degradation of the individual as a social being. This has had many negative consequences. We must take advantage of the positive elements of scientific and technological progress so as to improve the human condition in all regards, both biological and social.

Consequently, bioethics societies like SIBI are morally bound to educate the public in the need to implement new educational systems, strongly based on bioethical values. The message of preserving the continuity of bios, the continuity of life and the appreciation of the gift of life, should constitute the nucleus and framework of all future actions. We know that there are many threats to life. One of them is environmental damage on a global level. Experts say that the dramatic and progressive degradation of the environment will destroy life sooner or later. All the bioethical aspects we have been discussing will be worthless if we are not able to focus on linking our existence to environmental preservation. We must also acknowledge the relationship that exists between the protection of the human species, the protection of the environment and the protection of all the other elements that make up the universal ecosystem. Otherwise, in the not so very distant future, life as we understand it will be over. We all know that if we keep up the current pace of environmental destruction there will be no millennium, no life. We cannot let our children inherit a wasteland planet, even if scientific and technological progress make it possible to preserve biological life.

Based on the need for life on our planet to continue, environmental issues must penetrate every educational system, academic discipline and profession. Bioethics needs to become the active search for millennium values capable of harnessing the effects of science and promoting a new moral code in every profession. Bioethics is the “new ethics” for the millennium.

The SIBI millennium conference must incorporate as may fields as possible. We should not limit ourselves to medicine, but search for bioethical values in every vocation. If we do not acknowledge that all fields are interrelated, we will reduce the chance of expanding our vision for the millennium and will limit ourselves to redefining issues of the past.

I think that bioethics has to expand on the concept of profit. We have forgotten that profit can have cultural as well as economic dimensions, and should therefore include provisions for a better quality of life, progress in medicine, public health, etc. Currently, the concept of profit is only understood in economic terms. Bioethics must transform the popular concept of profit into a new, three-dimensional concept that represents a field open to study. We must be able to determine, quantify and rank how much of this profit is applicable to health, security, quality of life, etc.

MINUTES Nº 2
GIJÓN (Spain), Scientific Committee Meetings on 27th and 28th November 1998

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