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European Commission - Research - Biosociety

Biosociety and the Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy
Knowledge based bio-economy
EU-funded research
Bioethics networks
National ethics committees
Page last update: 25/12/2008

Basic Information

Bioethics played a pivotal role in FP6 and was an integral part of both the Life Sciences, Genomics and Biotechnology for Health; and the Food Quality and Safety thematic priorities. Below is some basic information related to this overarching theme.

Promoting the integration of the ethical, legal, and social aspects into research projects.

Research in bioethics was an integral part of research projects funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006), particularly in relation to:

Priority 1: Life Sciences, Genomics and Biotechnology

Priority 5: Food Quality and Safety

Experts in ethics and social sciences, whenever relevant, participated in research projects in areas such as genetic testing, stem cell research, biobanking, clinical trials, pharmacogenetics, population genetics, brain research, food safety, development of functional foods, sustainable production and food quality, and other related areas.

This type of integration contributed to:

  • facilitate the identification and analysis of ethical and social issues at the earliest possible stage of the research process. This should be done before the technologies are ready for use by society to avoid their rejection when brought to market
  • allow mutual education and dialogue in the context of each contributing discipline and its inherent approaches. It should also develop mechanisms to integrate ethics into the training of scientists and into their subsequent research and other fields of activities
  • ensure that ethicists have the means to assess continually the societal relevance and adequacy of scientific analyses and evaluations
  • ensure that due account is taken of the ethical and social concerns raised by European research and development (R&D), with special attention paid to our obligations towards future generations and towards other regions of the world
  • ensure that the general public is sufficiently informed about, and may actively engage in, the life sciences and biotechnology decision-making process in order to anticipate problems that cannot be properly addressed by concentrating exclusively on scientific and economic objectives.

Encouraging public dialogue and participation of stakeholders in research projects

Participants in research projects were encouraged to engage in an interactive dialogue involving all stakeholders (scientists and physicians, patients, consumers, industry, farmers, animal welfare organisations, ethicists, lawyers and others) and the public at large. It provided, at the European level, a bottom-up approach to the process of consensus forming around best ethical conduct involving academia, professional networks and societies, industry, and other stakeholders.

Fostering ethical awareness and foresight attention in research

All applicants were requested to address, in their application for funding, the potential ethical aspects of the proposed research project’s objectives, methodology, as well as the possible implications of the results. This should have justified the research design, explained how ethical requirements were fulfilled, and indicated the relevant national legal and regulatory requirements in the country or countries where the research took place. Rules for bioethics.

An ethical assessment took place for all proposals with the aim of evaluating the level of awareness among the applicants of the ethical and social implications of the research. Experts in ethics and the social sciences participated in the evaluation process.

A special ethical review were implemented for proposals dealing with specific and sensitive issues, such as the use of banked or isolated human embryonic stem cells in culture, human foetal tissue or cells, non human primates, or animal cloning, as well as (whenever recommended) following the ethical assessment during the scientific evaluation. Report on the stem cell research consultation [PDF document – 493 kb] and report on biobanks consultation [PDF document – 379 kb] (stores of biological samples).

Supporting specific actions to promote the debate on the ethical, legal, social and wider cultural aspects of the life sciences and biotechnology, as well as monitoring and evaluating their consequences

Support were provided for conferences, studies, as well as information and communication initiatives which may contribute to the implementation of the Action Plan on ‘Life Sciences and Biotechnology – A strategy for Europe’ and the European Research Area (ERA). It included foresight studies on the ethical, legal, social, and wider cultural aspects of the life sciences and biotechnology. This were alongside wider information and communication initiatives covering the analyses of the ethical issues at European level, the further development of training programmes in bioethics. This also included the development of ethical guidelines in areas such as genetic testing, pharmacogenomics, biobanks and the use of animals in research.

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Last update: 25 December 2008 | Top