Engendering Trust or Engineering Consent? Public Engagement in Recent Biobank Developments
Past event 21.09.2006
Professor Alan Petersen, University of Plymouth
Boardroom, ESRC Genomics Forum, 3rd Floor of St John's Land
The recent emegence of biobanks raises many questions about governance. Thus far, debates in this area have tended to focus on problems of adequately regulating developments so that they meet the consent of 'the public'. In the context of widespread concerns about a decline of trust in the regulatory mechanisms governing new biomedical technologies, scientists and science policymakers have sought to ensure that developments are seen to be consultative, for the public good, and proceed in accordance with established ethical principles. This paper examines the role of 'ethics' and 'public engagement' in recent biobank projects, focusing particularly on theestablishment phase of UK Biobank and the WA Genome Health Project. It discusses how the particular framing of issues and constructions of 'the public' have served to narrow debate on the substantive issues raised by biobanks. The paper will discuss some implications for public trust inbibiomedical research and the future development of biobank projects.
Biographical DetailsAlan Petersen is Professor of Sociology and Research Coordinator, School of Law and Social Sciences, University of Plymouth. He has recently researched and written on the socio-political implications of the new genetics, and the production and portrayal of news on biotechnologies. His recent publications include The New Genetics and the Public's Health (Routledge, 2002) (withRobin Bunton), Genetic Governance: Health, Risk and Ethics in the Biotech Era (Routledge, 2005) (co-edited with Robin Bunton). He is currently co-editing (with Herbert Gottweis) Biobanks: Governance in Comparative Perspective (Routledge, 2007).