17 November 2009
The new Science and Technology Committee of the UK House of Commons has launched a Bioengineering Inquiry, with a specific focus on ‘how the UK can maintain a globally competitive position in emerging and existing bioengineering research fields’. The specific areas of interest are synthetic biology, stem cells and genetic modification (GM), and in each of these areas the inquiry will consider issues of research, translation and regulation.
The relatively permissive regulatory regime for stem cell research in the UK has allowed it to prosper as a centre of international excellence, but even before the recent changes in the US and Japan relaxing restrictions on research involving human embryonic stem cells (see previous news), there were concerns that the UK could lag behind other global players. In contrast with the UK’s track record in stem cell research, research into many forms of genetic modification suffered significant setbacks following a media-led public backlash against so-called ‘Frankenstein foods’ (see also BBC news feature from 2008). Interest in synthetic biology has been growing in recent years (see previous news).
Written submissions are invited by 4th December 2009.