Position: Coordinator Ethics and Societal Aspects
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE FOR THE PROGRAMME AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE?
I first took a Medical Biochemistry degree, and then I started on the Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society programme. After my education I started working at the COGEM, the committee for genetic modification.
Although I find laboratory work to be very interesting, I was no longer interested in specializing at the microscopic level. I really wanted to zoom out and work on the interface between people and technology. The PSTS programme ticked all the right boxes for me. After completing my degree, I went to work for COGEM, the commission on genetic modification.
WHAT ARE YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION?
COGEM is an independent expert commission that advises the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment on the potential risks involved in genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If parties intend to work with genetic engineering, they must first submit an application for a permit. We consult with our experts before issuing our recommendation to the Ministry, which nearly always adopts our recommendations.
I am now the coordinator of the COGEM subcommittee on ethics and society, which informs the government about new developments in genetic engineering and about the societal aspects of these developments. For example, we have published reports on GM animals and synthetic biology and sustainability criteria for GMOs. These are fascinating subjects, because they are about technology and its implications for society.