Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
There is an apparent conflict between medical and design practitioners,
especially in their clients. The engineer's foremost client is the public. The
physician's exclusive client is the patient. So there is a question of whether
the two perspectives can be reconciled in matters of sustainability. In fact, the
medical community is increasingly open to sustainable practices. Notably,
the Teleosis Institute has emerged as an organization to support health care
professions in service of the global environment. The institute has a mandate
to reduce the environmental impacts of health care practices by providing
training to support emerging challenges in this area.
The approach is based on the link between human and environmental
health. This is not a new concept. Human beings not only affect their envi-
ronment but are affected by it. The name of the institute reminds as that protec-
tion of the environment requires the action of practitioners ( teleosis is roughly
translated from Greek to mean “greater self-realization”). This obligation can
be viewed as a form of bioethics, which has numerous definitions. For our
purposes, let us define it as the set of moral principles and values (the ethics part)
needed to respect, to protect, and to enhance life (the bio part). Upon review,
the definition embodies elements of medicine, health, and biotechnologies.
Bioethics is certainly rooted in these perspectives, but bioethics is much more.
Bioethics was coined by Van Rensselaer Potter II (1911-2001). Although
Potter was a biochemist, he thought like an engineer: that is, in a rational
and fact-based manner. In fact, his original 1971 definition of bioethics was
rooted in integration. Potter considered bioethics to bridge science and the
humanities to serve the best interests of human health and to protect the
environment. In his own words, Potter describes this bridge:
From the outset it has been clear that bioethics must be built on an
interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary base. I have proposed two major
areas with interests that appear to be separate but which need each other:
medical bioethics and ecological bioethics. Medical bioethics and eco-
logical bioethics are non-overlapping in the sense that medical bioethics
is chiefly concerned with short-term views: the options open to individ-
uals and their physicians in their attempts to prolong life
. Ecological
bioethics clearly has a long-term view that is concerned with what we
must do to preserve the ecosystem in a form that is compatible with the
continued existence of the human species. *
The Teleosis Institute is putting Potter's view into practice by implementing
a new model, green health care . The plan calls for health professionals to serve
as environmental educators, advocates, and stewards:
* V.R. Potter II, “What does bioethics mean?” The Ag Bioethics Forum , 8(1), 2-3, 1996.
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