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  • E(thical), L(egal) and S(ocial) A(spects) of the Life Sciences and Technologies Programmes of Framework Programme IV, Catalogue of Contracts, EUR 18309

Abstract

The Research and Technological Development Programmes of the European Union aim to prepare the ground for the technological development of the European society. By doing so the research and the technical developments are necessarily touching upon ethically sensitive issues, in particular in the field of life sciences.
In the life sciences the previous framework programmes took ethical aspects of advances in knowledge and technologies into account, by establishing a focused ethical review of particular areas, like human genetics, by promoting alternatives to animal experimentation, or by funding research in bioethics.
In the current framework programme (1994-1998) for RTD, this latter, original activity of bioethics research is best exemplified by the ELSA approach: ELSA stands for Ethical, Social and Legal Aspects, and it is a common research sub-area for the three specific programmes in the field of Life Sciences and Technologies, namely: Biotechnology, Biomedicine and Health, Agriculture and Fisheries (FAIR).
The projects described in this publication are all under way and only beginning to produce results: but the public knowledge of these on-going activities, in topics ranging from fundamental values in medical ethics to patenting of biotechnology and consumer choice towards genetically modified food, will certainly help to rationalize the debate on the use of biotechnology and to clarify priorities as well as give higher visibility to ethical aspects in the interinstitutional definition of our next Fifth Framework Programme.
The main objective of EC funding for bioethics research will be achieved if it improves both the social responsibility of researchers and societal trust in the desirability of the quest for new knowledge.

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