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Parliament President calls for universal prudence in biotechnology

Speaking at an international congress on global health equity: medical progress and quality of life in the 21st century, President of the European Parliament Nicole Fontaine called for an ethical dimension to biotechnology. Broaching the subject of ethics, Ms Fontaine concede...

Speaking at an international congress on global health equity: medical progress and quality of life in the 21st century, President of the European Parliament Nicole Fontaine called for an ethical dimension to biotechnology. Broaching the subject of ethics, Ms Fontaine conceded that the prohibition of certain types of research, particularly in genetics, could delay the discovery of certain more effective treatments and create a technological and economic divide between Europe and other developed regions, which may impose less stringent conditions. 'However, we [the European Parliament] believe that universal prudence is essential because what is at stake is the future of humankind in this new century,' she added. 'The international scientific community, whatever the ethical view to which the majority of its members subscribe, cannot be answerable for the deviations of 'sorcerer's apprentices', which we are now seeing on a worrying scale.' The Parliament President expressed her hope that, 'beyond the European Union, the international scientific community will bring its full weight to bear to ensure that this moral conscience extends throughout the world.' Ms Fontaine also criticised European research for its fragmentation, and called for more cooperation. 'Research and development are less effective than they might be, particularly in areas where Europe, because of its level of development and facilities [...] could play a more pioneering role in leading edge sectors: genomics, artificial organs, bioinformatics, tissue organ repair using stem cells, immunotherapy, telemedicine, gene therapy and so on,' said Ms Fontaine. EU research is less effective than it could be as it is 'still over compartmentalised because the idea of national frontiers is still rooted in attitudes and behaviour,' Ms Fontaine said.