Ethics

What is ethical in medicine?

Recently a 57-year-old man received a breakthrough operation. He was bedridden for several months and desperately needed a heart transplant. However, he had several health conditions which made him not suitable for the operation. In a last attempt to save the patient’s life, the Food and Drug Administration gave permission to attempt a genetically modified pig heart transplant for the first time in history. 

The operation was successful. Not only was the patient saved, but the medicine came closer to solving the problem of organ shortages. Unfortunately, the story is not as happy as it might seem.

What is accent-ism?

It is not a secret that people might judge you by the way you speak. For example, if you sound confident, people might trust you. 

But for some people, it is also about what accent you have. Studies showed that people might link your accent to not only your place of birth, but also your personal characteristics. Some accents are perceived as "good" or "correct." Listeners think that the speaker is intelligent, honest and hard-working because of their accent. On the other hand, some accents are seen as something negative and needing correction, with speakers seen as less intelligent. Both positive and negative conclusions are stereotypes.

Harvesting human cells from animals

CNN reports that scientists have created a mouse embryo that's 4% human. The hybrid is what scientists call a human-animal chimera, a single organism that is made up of two different sets of cells. This human-mouse chimera has by far the highest number of human cells ever recorded in an animal.

The team's experiment indicates that there is enough evolutionary compatibility between mice and humans that mouse embryos are a relatively good environment for cultivating human cells. This breakthrough could potentially generate better mouse models to study human diseases, including Covid-19. Mice can also be used to grow human immune cells or respiratory cells.

Is biohacking a major concern?

Gene-editing technology known as CRISPR is becoming more and more widely available. CRISPR is the name of a family of DNA sequences, parts of which can be used like a pair of molecular scissors capable of cutting strands of DNA. However, many in the scientific community have sounded the alarm because doing this activity outside of professional laboratories could be quite dangerous.

In the near future, biohackers may be able to upgrade or optimize their physical and cognitive performance. Some of the other biohacking techniques include implanting a small computer chip into your hand to use as ID or taking "smart drugs" called "nootropics".

But in California, where in Silicon Valley biohacking really took off, a new law is making it illegal to sell a do-it-yourself genetic engineering kit unless it comes with a warning that it’s not for self-administration.

However, according to Vox.com, nobody actually seems to be selling the kind of kit that’s prohibited. 

Fast Fashion: Is it worth the cost?

It comes in red, mustard and black, in sizes 6 up to 16; the Boohoo minidress is, according to the online retailer, "perfect for transitioning from day to play". It is not so much the styling and colour, but the price of the £5 dress which attracts thousands of the thriving retailer's U.K. customers to buy it.

The £5 dress epitomises a fast fashion industry that pumps hundreds of new collections onto the market in a short time at pocket money prices. On average, such dresses and other products are discarded by consumers after five weeks. 

But behind the price tag, there is an environmental and social cost not contained on the label of such products. The textile industry creates more CO² a year than international aviation and shipping combined. It also creates chemical and plastic pollution—as much as 35% of micro-plastics found in the ocean come from synthetic clothing, not to mention the scrapped clothing piling up in landfills. 

Different standards for the wealthy

In the US, the widespread belief that the poor are simply lazy has led many states to impose work requirements on aid recipients—even those who have been medically classified as disabled. Limiting aid programs in this way has been shown to shorten recipients’ lives, creating a difference of more than 20 years in life expectancy between the rich and the poor.

When the wealthy are revealed to be drug addicts, philanderers, or work-shy, the response is at most a collective shrug. At the same time, behaviors indulged in the rich are not just condemned in the poor, but are used as a justification to punish them, denying them access to resources that keep them alive, such as healthcare and food assistance.

Trump praises attack on journalist

The British government has joined press freedom advocates and journalists in expressing dismay and disgust with Donald Trump's remarks at a rally, where he praised the unprovoked assault on a Guardian US journalist by the state's congressman, Greg Gianforte.

Trump fondly reminisced about the physical assault that occurred on 24 May 2017 when Jacobs, the Guardian's political correspondent, asked Gianforte a question about healthcare policy in the course of a special congressional election in Montana.

In a statement, PEN America, a nonprofit organization that works to defend and celebrate free expression, said Trump's "Explicit praise" for Gianforte's assault "marks a startling new low in terms of the White House's open hostility toward the press".

Using blockchain to track tuna

​It seems like everyone is getting into blockchain these days. After all, companies claim to like "transparency", "security", and anything to do with the roller coaster ride that is Bitcoin. But consider this: Tuna.

There are now several blockchain-based projects that aim to stop illegal tuna fishing. The idea is that blockchain-verification would assure consumers and others that the fish were ethically sourced. Or maybe it's just PR, who knows.

Blockchain is essentially a shared digital database that can be updated, but stored entries can't be changed or deleted. It's prohibitively hard to fake information that's tracked using blockchain. In this case, it can certify that something is legit and ethically sourced, such as tuna. Visser and Hanich continue:

Kobe Steel falsified data

The Japanese government is urging steelmaker Kobe Steel to clarify the extent of manipulation of data on steel, aluminum and other metals used in a wide range of products, reportedly including rockets, aircraft and cars.

A government spokesman on Wednesday criticized the apparently widespread falsification of data as "inappropriate," saying it could undermine product safety.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami told reporters that about 200 of Kobe Steel's customers were affected.

Kobe Steel, Japan's third-largest steel maker, announced Sunday that between Sept. 1, 2016 and Aug. 31 of this year it had sold aluminum and copper materials using falsified data on such things as the products' strength.

The company said the materials included aluminum flat-rolled products, aluminum extrusions, copper strips, copper tubes and aluminum castings and forgings.