Brussels, May 2003
The European Commission has just launched its new 'Biosociety' website - an online resource and information portal offering the latest news and views on biotechnology and the life sciences.
The rapid rate of progress in the biosciences promises to bring about radical changes in the way we lead our lives. The Research Directorate-General's Biosociety website aims to be a 'one-stop shop' for experts, generalists and members of the public alike to help them keep abreast of the fast-moving and complex world of biotechnologies and the life sciences.
"The Biosociety site not only aims to intensify the interactions between specialists but also strives to offer a tool to the concerned general public to better grasp the issues at stake and to make their voice heard," said Etienne Magnien, head of unit at the biotechnology, agriculture and food directorate of the Commission's Research DG, following the site's launch.
The website comes as part of a drive to involve a wider public in EU research policy. Under the Sixth Framework Programme, the Commission has committed itself to ensuring that the ethical, legal, social and wider cultural aspects are taken into account at the earliest possible stage of Community-funded research into the life sciences and biotechnology.
"The full integration of socio-economic concerns in all research activities sponsored by the Commission is continuously gaining momentum. The Biosociety site should tremendously speed up this process," said Mr Magnien.
An interactive platform
The online news service offers a succinct run down of the latest biosociety-related scientific, technological and policy developments, as well as information on the ethical issues at stake. An extensive events calendar helps those interested in the field plan their diary.
A dedicated section provides information on European policies governing the biosciences. The website also contains a wealth of reference materials in its library section, including a range of official documents, reports, catalogues of studies and a glossary of bio-terms.
The online bioforum will provide a platform for debating topical issues, where specialists active within the life sciences – biotech researchers, social scientists, economists and ethical experts – and the public at large can exchange views. The current question for debate is: 'How can life sciences and biotech help meet European society's health, environmental and economic needs?'