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Bioethics Commission calls for enhanced federal oversight in new field of synthetic biology
Date:12/16/2010

and field release permitted only after reasonable risk assessment.

  • The Executive Office of the President should remain actively engaged with "do it yourself" groups to communicate and discuss applicable safety and security issues.

  • Recognizing that international coordination is essential for safety and security, the Department of State, in concert with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, should collaborate with governments around the world, as well as leading international organizations, such as the World Health Organization to promote ongoing dialogue about emerging technologies like synthetic biology.

  • The National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy and other federal agencies should evaluate research proposals through peer-review in order to make sure that the most promising scientific research is conducted on the public's behalf.

  • Educational classes on the ethical dilemmas raised by synthetic biology should be a mandatory part of training for young researchers, engineers, and others who work in this emerging field.

  • Forums should be established to improve the general public's understanding of this field, including the creation of a biology equivalent to FactCheck.org, in which a private group would track statements about the science and offer an independent view of the truth of such claims.

    Dr. Gutmann noted that the issues considered are relevant well beyond government officials and emphasized the value of informed public conversation regarding scientific research.

    "The public, journalists, and policymakers need facts and reliable analyses to help them understand the benefits as well as the risks of new technologies," said Gutmann. "To aid public understanding of emerging scientific issues, the Commission is recommending that an independent organization do for synthetic biology and biotechnology what factcheck.o
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  • Contact: Jemma Weymouth
    jweymouth@burnesscommunications.com
    301-652-1558
    Burness Communications
    Source:Eurekalert

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