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Nuffield Council on Bioethics launches consultation on emerging biotechnologies

11 April 2011

By Ben Jones

Appeared in BioNews 603

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has begun a broad project exploring how legislators and members of the public respond to emerging biotechnologies. Calling for opinions and evidence, the Council has begun a preliminary consultation that seeks to identify common social, ethical, legal and policy issues raised by biotechnological developments spanning from IVF to nanotechnology.

'Vastly different public responses to biotechnologies can be seen between different countries or cultures. For example, stem cell research is widely accepted in the UK, while this has been controversial in the USA. It is the other way around for genetically modified crops', said Professor Michael Moran of the University of Manchester, who is leading the project. 'We want to explore the reasons for this with a view to providing practical guidance for policy makers in future', he said. 

Outlining the range of questions the team hopes to address, Professor Moran included: 'What principles should decision makers apply to emerging biotechnologies? What tools and levers might they use to secure benefits and minimise the risks? And what role should public engagement activities play?'.

The Council said such a study is deemed particularly relevant as public opinion is increasingly being courted by legislators when putting together measures to regulate research, application or access to developing biotechnology. It plans also to conduct face-to-face meetings with stakeholders before compiling the final report.

The project is being conducted by a team of legal, philosophical, industrial, scientific and public engagement experts assembled in January. The deadline for responses is 15 June 2011 and the final report will be published in 2012.

Nuffield Council on Bioethics | 04 April 2011


18 October 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics has reported that direct-to-consumer personal genetic profiling services used to predict people's genetic susceptibility for common diseases, such as Parkinson's and diabetes, are often inconclusive, misleading and can potentially cause unnecessary anxiety, complacency or distress when no treatment is available...
27 April 2009 - by Ben Jones 
The UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an independent group of experts, is launching a new inquiry into the growing - and largely unregulated - provision of medical services through the internet and by consumer-targeted businesses. The multi-disciplinary group of experts will look at patients' experience of services including DNA...
25 September 2003 - by BioNews 
The UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published a report on the ethical and policy issues surrounding pharmacogenetics: the use of tests to match medicines to a person's genetic make-up. It concludes that although such tests may significantly improve the quality of patient care, it is still unclear how quickly...
25 November 2002 - by BioNews 
The UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics has launched a public consultation on the ethical issues raised by the future development of medical prescriptions tailored to a person's genetic make-up. The paper, published on 19 November, poses twenty questions relating to the use of genetic tests to predict how a person...
10 April 2000 - by BioNews 
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published a discussion paper recommending changes in UK regulations, which would allow research into stem cells derived from embryos. It also recommended lifting the ban on research into therapeutic cloning - the potential treatment of human diseases using tissues derived from cloned early embryos. Embryo...

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