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7, Place de Fontenoy
75352 PARIS 07 SP, France


Nurturing the democratic debate.  
11-11-2002 11:00 pm Paris - A proposed international declaration on human genetic data will be discussed for the first time at the ninth session of UNESCO's International Bioethics Committee (IBC) in Montreal from November 26 to 28.
The meeting will also tackle subjects ranging from religious views of bioethics to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, predisposition and genetic susceptibility.

The draft declaration has been produced by the IBC's Drafting Group for an international instrument on genetic data, which has already met three times. It will incorporate amendments suggested by the Montreal meeting and come up with a further version to be submitted to the Intergovernmental Committee of Bioethics (IGCB). The draft will be widely debated, notably at a big meeting of government experts next year. The final version should be presented for approval at UNESCO's General Conference next autumn.

A round-table discussion on November 26 (at 10 a.m.) called "Bioethics in the light of spiritual values and traditions of humanity" will include Noritoshi Aramaki (Japan), of the Department of Buddhist Studies at Otani University (Kyoto), Bernard Kanovitch (France), director of the Rothschild Chair of Ethics and professor of medicine at the University of Paris XI, Sehdev Kumar (Canada), director of the Forum for Dialogue between Science and Religion (Toronto), Hisham Nashabe (Lebanon), director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Makassed Institute in Beirut, Daniel Weinstock (Canada), director of the Centre for Research in Ethics at Montreal University, and Mgr Jean-Marie Mpendawatu (Holy See) of the Pontifical Council for Health and Pastoral Care. The round-table will be chaired by Michèle Jean (Canada), vice-president of the IBC and a former Canadian deputy minister of health.

The afternoon session will focus on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. André van Steirteghem (Belgium), clinical director of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at the Free University of Brussels, will review the current situation (2 p.m.) and Hans Galjaard (the Netherlands), emeritus professor of human genetics at the University Hospital of Rotterdam, will introduce the IBC Working Group's report on genetic diagnosis and germ-line interventions.

The morning of November 27, under the chairmanship of Lebanon's minister for displaced persons, Marwan Hamadé, will see discussion of the chances of drawing up a universal instrument on bioethics. Leonardo de Castro, professor of philosophy at the University of the Philippines, and Giovanni Berlinguer, honorary chairperson of Italy's National Bioethics Committee, will present the IBC Working Group's preliminary report on this. Rémi Quirion, director of Canada's Institute for Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, will also make a review of the state of research into the human brain.

The afternoon's theme will be "Predispositions, susceptibility and genomic research: what implications for the future?" Claude Laberge (Canada), director of the Network of Applied Genetic Medicine of Quebec, will talk on "Genomics, health and society." Michel Revel (Israel), professor of molecular genetics at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences, will talk about "Ethical issues raised by behavioural genetics" and Francisco Mauro Salzano (Brazil), of the Institute of Biosciences of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, will discuss "Genomics and environmental change."

The morning of November 28 will be devoted to drawing up an international instrument on genetic data. The session, chaired by IBC chairperson Ryuichi Ida (Japan), will allow the full IBC to examine for the first time the proposed instrument produced by the IBC's Drafting Group co-chaired by Nicole Questiaux, vice-president of France's national advisory committee on ethics, and Patrick Robinson, a Jamaican judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Contacts: Pierre Gaillard, Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section
Tel: +33 (0) 1 4568-1740
E-mail: p.gaillard@unesco.org

Source Media Advisory No.2002-53


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