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Loyola philosophy students present their paper at the 2016 National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference

Philosophy students Brittney Esie, Thanh Mai, and Emily Polvado presented their paper "Regenerative Medicine and the Environment" at the National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio on April 9, 2016.

Here is the abstract of their paper: Regenerative medicine has gained an increase in notability due to the multitude of benefits associated with the practice. For example, regenerative medicine not only has the capacity to replace, engineer or regenerate human cells, tissues or organs to restore their normal function. It also has the ability to establish normal function in cells, tissues, or organs that previously operated in an abnormal way.

The question of regenerative medicine has been widely debated in the bioethics field, with scholars such as Nancy King, Chris Coughlin, and Mark Furth arguing the ethical basis for using embryonic stem cell research for regenerative medicinal purposes. However, these articles do not adequately address the issue of environmental sustainability within the field of regenerative medicine. Undoubtedly, the use of regenerative medicine is enabling people to live longer. Is this ultimately a good thing? Closely examining environmental sustainability as it pertains to regenerative medicine will shed new light on the rarely acknowledged issues of longer life spans and its impact on the environmental.

Humans impact the environment in several different ways, not all of them positive. Detrimental environmental effects attributed to human activity include decreased water supply. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predict that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity. Other environmental consequences include increased air pollution, depletion of natural resources, and contribution to global climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions. Given the current data and information on regenerative medicine, this study aims to look at the ethical implication of the use of regenerative medicine as it relates to the environmental impact it would cause due to longer life expectancies of those who receive the treatment. Specifically this paper will look at and analyze data on the history of human activity on the environment and the impact longer life expectancy has had. Furthermore, this study will compare those findings with the projected impact of regenerative medicine as its use becomes more widespread. In conclusion, by closely examining sustainability in bioethics, this project will highlight the ethical implications of environmental sustainability in regenerative medicine.