This year, being both the 30th anniversary of the first successful use of IVF, as well as the year in which new UK legislation in this area is expected, is highly illustrative of why Progress Educational Trust (PET) set up BioNews in the first place - to facilitate and encourage debate on all aspects of the use of reproductive and genetic technologies. From the results of our surveys and other feedback we receive, we know that BioNews is read by many Parliamentarians and others with a stake in the way this area is regulated. We want to help ensure that these subscribers in particular, at this crucial time, continue to see the wide range of opinions surrounding - and be aware of all the nuances of - the debates that currently exist.
With this in mind, we have a number of plans for the remainder of this year. First, we have asked a number of respected academics, clinicians, scientists and other informed people working in this area to write a comment piece that will become part of a series of BioNews Commentaries commissioned to mark our 450th issue. We hope that this series of commentaries will reflect on the past nine years and beyond, reflect on the success or otherwise of the existing regulation of this area, or look at what might (or should) happen in the future. The first of these commentaries will be published in the 450th BioNews, with one or more following weekly. If you read one of these and want to respond with your own comments, please contact us: we would be happy to begin a dialogue on the issues rising out of the passage of the new legislation.
Second, we are planning to commission another BioNews survey, seeking the opinions of all our subscribers on how we can better deliver BioNews to you and, for example, improve our web site. Our last survey, carried out in 2004, was very useful in informing our plans for the development of BioNews - for example, it lead to the inclusion of a wider range of viewpoints in our 'Commentaries' section. So when our 2008 survey arrives in your inbox, we'd be extremely grateful if you could spend a few minutes to let us know what you think.
In addition to BioNews, PET is busy working on other ways to encourage and inform debate on issues arising from developments in human genetics and assisted reproduction. Already this year, PET has held two highly successful public debates, one in Westminster on 'the need for a father' to be considered in the welfare of children born following IVF, and another in Newcastle, on new research into artificial gametes. On the 9th April, PET is organising a public discussion entitled 'Debating Deafness and Embryo Selection: Are we undermining reproductive confidence in the deaf community?' in Cardiff, whilst on 29th May, the debate: 'Cousin marriage: A cause for concern?', will be held in London - please see 'Recommends' for further details of these forthcoming events.
PET is also planning to hold another debate in Westminster, to coincide with the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill's passage through the Houses of Commons - so if there is particular issue raised by this legislation that you'd like to see discussed more widely, then please contact us with your ideas. We would also be delighted to hear from any organisation interested in sponsoring this or any of PET's other events this year. Finally, another date for your diary: PET's annual one day conference will be held on 19th November this year, in London.
The fundamental objective of PET is to help create an environment in which ethically sound research and practices in genetic services and assisted reproduction will thrive. The ultimate beneficiaries are families threatened by genetic disease or infertility, including parents wanting the opportunity to give birth to healthy children. We thereby seek to bring timely influence to bear on policy makers as new advances and issues arise. To do this, PET plans to build on its core activities of providing information and commentaries through BioNews, and running live debates that can feed into policy-making. If you support our work, there are three ways in which you can help us achieve our aims:
1. You can become, or renew your membership of our Friends of PET scheme - email PET director Sarah Norcross for further details.
2. You can donate securely to at any time to BioNews using your credit or debit card. Or, if you prefer, you can send a cheque, payable to Progress Educational Trust, to: Progress Educational Trust, 140 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8AX.
3. If your organisation is interested in sponsoring BioNews or a PET debate, again, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Dr Kirsty Horsey is Contributing Editor at BioNews. She is coeditor of Human Fertilisation and Embryology: Reproducing Regulation (buy this book from Amazon UK) and coauthor of Tort Law (buy this book from Amazon UK) and Skills For Law Students (buy this book from Amazon UK).