1. ESRC Genomics Network (archive)
  2. Gengage
  3. The Human Genre Project

Genomics Forum · News

International experts gather to consider policy challenges from the rapid development of biosciences

Issued 25.04.2013: released 25.04.2013


Impact of biotechnology upon society and science policy to be “put under the microscope”.


The impact that rapid and emerging developments within biotechnology has upon society and science policy will be “put under the microscope” when international policy makers, scientists and social scientists convene in London on 30 April and 1 May 2013.

At the Genomes and societies: Global challenges around life sciences conference – which is being organised by the ESRC Genomics Network – leading experts will consider how the fast pace of development in areas of the life sciences (including global health, food production, and the increasing cheapness and availability of genomic sequencing) has potential wide and far reaching implications for our society and economy.

The meeting will also examine how UK and international policy makers are responding to these challenges and opportunities through, for example, the development of new approaches such as “Responsible Innovation”.

The conference represents the culmination of the work of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Genomics Network initiative, which during the last decade has developed into the most significant global focus for social scientific research on genomics (the study of an organism’s genome) and the life sciences.

In addition to attracting prominent natural and social scientists, the event will also feature presentations from leading members of the international and UK policy community, including: the Chair of the House of Commons’ Select Committee on Science and Technology; the Head of Science and Technology Policy for the OECD; a former UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser; and a senior scientific advisor to the European Commission.

Speaking in advance of the event, conference organiser and Co-Director of the Genomics Network, Professor Steve Yearley said:

“It’s often forecast that the 21st century is destined to be the era of the life sciences, just as the 20th century was shaped by significant advances in information technology. Our understanding of genomics and cellular biology is ever increasing, potentially leading to significant developments in medicine, biotechnology, agriculture and industry.

“Yet it’s essential we look beyond the technology itself and examine how this might influence our society and economy. What, for example, might be the impact upon consumers if it becomes commercially viable to culture artificial meat in the lab? And if someone could soon have their genome sequenced for a few hundred pounds, what might be the implications for their healthcare, or even whether they, or their relatives, can obtain life insurance covering certain genetically related diseases?

“The rapid rise of biotechnology presents both opportunities and challenges, and this meeting will showcase the social-scientific evidence in this area that is most relevant to policy makers, regulators and business leaders.”