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Comprehensive Environmental Assessment was extremely helpful in providing guidance for research priorities; however, we thought it necessary to address ethical concerns associated with our project. As such, we designed our project in accordance with the ethical principles identified by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (2010). Our primary motive is public beneficence: to improve global public health by monitoring the safety of drinking water. We have also demonstrated responsible stewardship by considering the environmental implications of our project; the ecological impact of placing our genetically modified strain in water would be minimal because our filtration system will not allow bacteria to escape. S. oneidensis MR-1 is native to North America and poses no known threat to biodiversity or humans; however, before field testing, we would engineer our strains to be auxotrophic. We have spoken directly with Environment Canada representatives who confirmed our recombinant S. oneidensis-based biosensor is easily approvable for field deployment.

In addition, the electrochemical biosensor is an intellectually responsible pursuit: our project cannot foreseeably be used to cause people harm. In the spirit of democratic deliberation, the human practices component of our team seeks to account for others’ ethical concerns about our project. We have begun consulting with local citizens as well as public authorities in order to fully understand the possible impacts of our project. Our proposed system would be easy, cost-effective, and potentially usable on a global scale, demonstrating justice and fairness in its intended implementation. Additionally, the modularity of our biosensing platform allows it to be adapted to the needs of different communities, in order to best serve global populations and environments.
Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. (2010). New directions: The ethics of synthetic biology and emerging technologies. Washington, D.C.: Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.