Friday, October 03, 2008

Global Bioethics: A New Toolkit

Did you know that 59 nations have passed laws prohibiting reproductive cloning? Or that 44 countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica and Japan, have passed legislation outlawing the use of genetic germline modification technology (commonly referred to in the popular press as "designer babies") as an affront to human dignity?

Surprisingly, the United States is one of the few developed countries to have no national policy on a host of bioethical issues including use of eggs for assisted reproduction and research, genetic germline modification, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, surrogacy, social sex selection, as well as reproductive and therapeutic cloning.

Thanks to the work of The Center for Genetics and Society there is now is wiki-style compendium of human biotechnology policies around the world that scholars, policy makers and journalists can access. According to the CGS website, the BioPolicyWiki displays policies governing human genetic and reproductive technologies and practices for all countries, as well as policies adopted by major intergovernmental organizations. Both charts and narrative descriptions of the policies are included. The "wiki" format means that anyone can edit BioPolicyWiki. With users' contributions, the initial collection of legal and policy information will grow in quantity and quality.

A welcome toolkit for those trying to navigate the world of global bioethics and emerging technologies.

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