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:: 08 the future of Food & Biotech
Ethical, legal and socio-economic aspects of ...
08 the future of Food & Biotech    9/26/2003 6:37:42 PM


Ethical, legal and socio-economic aspects of agriculture, fisheries and food biotechnology.


An overview of Research Activities 1994- 2002

Research breakthroughs and technological developments in life sciences raise important ethical and social considerations, in particular in connection with agriculture and food related issues. Ethical and social considerations have influenced legislative/decision making processes and the public understanding of new scientific and technological developments, e.g. in the case of genetic engineering applied to the agro-food sector.

The Commission has consistently addressed the ethical and social dimensions of research in life sciences within the different Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. In particular, the 4th FP highlighted the bio-ethics dimension through the horizontal ELSA (Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects) sub-area, common to the three programmes (BIOMED II, FAIR and BIOTECHNOLOGY). Now that the majority of the projects supported under this sub-area have concluded, with this publication we intend to communicate to the public the main results relevant to one particular application area, namely the agro-food complex.

Basically this publication selects from the FAIR and BIOTECHNOLOGY Programmes the ELSA projects funded in the field of agro-food, fisheries and food biotechnology (including animal welfare and biodiversity). Projects dealing with Public Perception and Socio-economic impacts of Biotechnology have also been included.

The Commission services have taken advantage of this opportunity to include also results of research projects and accompanying measures funded under the Bioethics and Socio-economic activities of the ongoing Quality of Life programme (5 th FP). Basic information about current projects in agriculture, animal or food biotechnology is included as well.

The publication thus provides an overview of relevant activities carried out over the 1994- 2002 period. Among the topics covered are: ethical aspects of agro-food biotechnology, public perceptions, the development of biotech companies, animal welfare, animal biotechnology, biodiversity and environment- related aspects and intellectual property. It should be noted that a number of projects focus on education (biotechnology, ethical education within life sciences faculties, etc) and the characterisation of the link between policy making and ethical/ social aspects. The main results have been extracted from the final reports. The complete results of the projects presented are available in most cases via the website indicated and may also be published via the Internet in the near future.

In conclusion and considering that we are moving close to the date of launch of the 6th FP for RTD, this publication also presents the new approach for integrating the ethical, legal, social and wider cultural aspects into research projects. We hope that this approach, which is fully in line with the actions proposed by the Commission in its communication on “Life Sciences and Biotechnology- A strategy for Europe », will contribute to making the ethical and social debate a natural part of the research and development activities in Life Sciences, involving society as much as possible. Within this perspective, the Commission activities in this area will also include actions targeted to better communicate the progress in life sciences to society. With this purpose, already in April 2000 the Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin decided to set up the European Group on Life Sciences (EGLS) as a source of high-level advice on the future of life sciences and technologies. In addition, the implementation of the action plan Science and Society will contribute to setting this goal in the wider context of the European research policy.

Bruno Hansen
Director Direction E Life sciences: Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food

The full report con be downloaded as a *.pdf file: click here



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