At the recent NAS MOBE meeting there was some discussion of some potential ethical concerns associated with one of the projects discussed (work of Eric Alm where he was collecting samples from urban water systems and trying to infer information about communities and residents).
OK #MOBE17 and others out there – I am getting really uncomfortable w/ privacy issues associated w/ upstream sewage sampling
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) October 11, 2017
Ok, am I the only one whose comfort zone was just stretched by the process of identifying metabolites in sewage components?
— Van Den Wymelenberg (@Wymelenberg) October 11, 2017
This paper was mentioned by some as being relevant to that discussion and I thought I would share it here. I personally am definitely concerned that this type of issue is not getting discussed enough in the MOBE field.
Shamarina, D., Stoyantcheva, I., Mason, C. E., Bibby, K., & Elhaik, E. (2017). Communicating the promise, risks, and ethics of large-scale, open space microbiome and metagenome research Microbiome, 5(1), 132.
- The most common concerns associated with the public impact of microbiome research
- Ostracizing sensitive populations
- Drawing the public away from transit systems
- Creating health risks to investigators
- Stigmatizing healthcare facilities as healthcare hazards
- Encouraging fears of water safety
- Perpetuating privacy and confidentiality fears
- Raising new ethical questions
- Demonizing microorganisms