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Ethical principles for the use of human cellular biotechnologies

Recent developments in bioengineering promise the possibility of new diagnostic and treatment strategies, novel industrial processes, and innovative approaches to thorny problems in fields such as nutrition, agriculture, and biomanufacturing. As modern genetics has matured and developed technologies of increasing power, debates over risk assessments and proper applications of the technology, and over who should have decision-making power over such issues, have become more prominent. Recently, some scientists have advocated that ethicists “step out of the way,” whereas others have called for greater ethical scrutiny, or even for moratoria on some lines of research1,2. As a community, however, we must together determine the proper application of these powerful biological tools. This paper, a consensus statement of a group of interdisciplinary delegates drawn from the top biotech-producing countries of the world, offers a set of ethical principles to contribute to the ethical conversation about human cellular biotechnological research moving forward.

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BEINGS was made possible by grants from the Coca-Cola Foundation, Emory University, The Marcus Foundation, Georgia Research Alliance, Wipro Limited, King & Spalding Law Firm, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Airlines, Sanofi, Air France, The Embassy of the Republic of France, the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Central Atlanta Progress, and Biofaction. Academic partners included the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Brenau University, Mercer University, Agnes Scott College, Columbia Theological Seminary, Georgia College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia State University, Morehouse School of Medicine, University of Northern Georgia, Oglethorpe University Savannah College of Art and Design, and the University of West Georgia.

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Correspondence to Paul Root Wolpe.

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One author, Karol Estrada, reports receiving salary and stocks from Biogen.

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Wolpe, P., Rommelfanger, K. & the Drafting and Reviewing Delegates of the BEINGS Working Groups. Ethical principles for the use of human cellular biotechnologies. Nat Biotechnol 35, 1050–1058 (2017).

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