* Ethics in EU Research
Public attitudes towards science and technology are overwhelmingly positive. The confidence generated by messages such as 'scientifically tested' or 'scientifically proven' is testament to society's support of scientific endeavour. It also highlights the social responsibility that accompanies research. As science advances and the relationship between science and society evolves, new challenges are created for the scientific community.
Today, there are more scientists than ever before. Every day, exciting research opportunities spring into existence. Projects are larger, more complex, and more expensive. The role that science plays in our lives continues to gain in importance, and society, in turn, has a stake in science. Consequently, the relationship between science and society continues to change and intensify in the pursuit of progress.
Excellence in science means addressing ethical concerns - to improve the quality of the science itself, but also to highlight the importance of its outcomes to the wider community. The EU's commitment to ethics in research is reflected in explicit requirements, and more specifically in the evaluation of project proposals. Ethics may be context-dependent, but any research team's approach to ethical matters is taken as an indication of the honesty and the clarity of its proposal.
While there are rarely clear-cut answers when it comes to ethics, some areas are excluded from EU funding by definition. These are human cloning for reproductive purposes, altering the genetic heritage of human beings, and creating human embryos only to conduct research or obtain stem cells.
Key concepts of European research ethics
All research activities supported by FP7 should respect fundamental ethical principles, including those reflected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Research on human stem cells (both adult and embryonic) may be financed, depending on the scientific proposal and the legal framework of the Member State(s) involved.
The precautionary principle requires projects to conduct a careful assessment of predictable risks and potential benefits at the outset, establish proportionality between these, and implement appropriate safety measures.
For further information see: http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ethics_en.html