Ethical and responsible development of wastewater-based epidemiology technologies
reportposted on 18.10.2021, 05:55 by Suzanne Manning, Mathew Walton
Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is a recent field of study which uses chemical analysis to measure substances of interest in samples of wastewater, to provide population-level data. As an emerging set of technologies, ethical and public acceptance issues are actively being discussed by scientists, ethicists and policymakers. This interview-based study, informed by systems thinking approaches, contributes to the literature by investigating stakeholder views on ethical approaches appropriate for a Crown Research Institute to implement, with regards to WBE. The study concluded that an institution-wide responsible research and innovation (RRI) approach, supported by robust, strategic and coherent internal research assessment processes, was the most appropriate system for ESR. These processes should draw on a diversity of perspectives and enact a meaningful dialogue with Māori as indigenous partners under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. These processes and partnerships are essential for ESR to fulfil its legal and socially expected role of undertaking research for the benefit of all New Zealanders.