In 1993 the National Research Council’s Board on Biology established a series of forums on biotechnology. The purpose of the discussions is to foster open communication among scientists, administrators, policy-makers, and others engaged in biotechnology research, development, and commercialization. The neutral setting offered by the National Research Council is intended to promote mutual understanding among government, industry, and academe and to help develop imaginative approaches to problem-solving. The objective, however, is to illuminate issues, not to resolve them. Unlike study committees of the National Research Council, forums cannot provide advice or recommendations to any government agency or other organization. Similarly, summaries of forums do not reach conclusions or present recommendations, but instead reflect the variety of opinions expressed by the participants. The comments in this report reflect the views of the forum’s participants as indicated in the text.
For the first forum, held on November 5, 1996, the Board on Biology collaborated with the Board on Agriculture to focus on intellectual property rights issues surrounding plant biotechnology. The second forum, held on April 26, 1997, and also conducted in collaboration with the Board on Agriculture, was focused on issues in and obstacles to a broad genome project with numerous plant and animal species as its subjects. The third forum, held on November 1, 1997, focused on privacy issues and the desire to protect people from unwanted intrusion into their medical records. Proposed laws contain broad language that could affect bio medical and clinical research, in addition to the use of genetic testing in research.