Editorial: UNESCO Bioethics Committee and Bioethical issues of Genetics

- Darryl Macer, Ph.D.

Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba Science City, 305, JAPAN

Eubios Ethics Institute Newsletter 3 (1993), 71.

Reports on the first meeting of the Committee which was held 15-16 September are in Nature 365: 288; Lancet 342: 798. I am a member of the committee and disagree with the Nature report which claims "UNESCO falters in bid to draft human genome treaty". This is a false heading, since the work of the committee just began on that day, it can not be expected to produce an instant treaty. An introductory report drafted by a smaller group of people is still to be considered, along with the contributions of the newly established committee. The first meeting did not have time to discuss the ethical issues, but was intended to chose 3-4 themes for consideration by subgroups of the committee, in time for the second meeting, to be held in September 1994. Any treaty draft must wait until at least that time, to even have a feel for what should go into a treaty.

The Eubios Ethics Institute Newsletter is being circulated to all 50 members of the committee, c/o UNESCO, and it is hoped that the newsletter can be a written forum for exchange of ideas between the members, and between members of the Eubios Ethics Institute Newsletter subscriber/International Association of Bioethics Genetics Network. We look forward to further comments, and a list of Network members (who consent to release of their name in the list) will be sent to all subscribers in March 1993. I hope that the International Association of Bioethics, and other similar groups,will also publish a list of members so that it will be able to communicate with a wider community. Unpublished membership lists even to their members does not ride well with the concept of bioethics.


1994 Newsletter subscriptions are requested. Please send the enclosed form, which also asks for permission for placing your name in a list of the International Association of Bioethics Genetics Network list, to be prepared for sending in March 1994. Also, reduced prices for forthcoming books are offered for combined payment with the newsletter subscription.

Three books are planned to be published by the Eubios Ethics Institute early next year, more details are enclosed. Two will be the English and Japanese proceedings of the Third International Bioethics Seminar in Fukui, on Intractable Neurological Disorders, Human Genome Research and Society , to be edited by N. Fujiki and D. Macer. Another one will be written mainly by me, also with a variety of papers written by collaborators of the International Bioethics Survey, and other people on International Bioethics, called Bioethics For the People By the People.

This issue of the Newsletter contains a few less references than normal, partly to make room for a report on the attitudes to gene therapy and genetic screening that should be of interest.

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