In May 2015 Atlanta will host Biotechnology and the Ethical Imagination: A Global Summit (BEINGS), an international summit drawing together the world's thought leaders on the highly debated issues of cellular biotechnology. Hundreds of international experts in the fields of science and ethics will work together to establish a future vision and consensus on ethical guidelines and policy standards for research and development of cellular biotechnology.
The real-life applications of biotechnology exceed the realms of science, medicine and academia and touch the lives of the average citizen. Reproductive technologies, vaccines, drug development, and other technologies involving stem-cell biology are just a few examples. Cell-based biotechnologies such as synthetic biology also have industrial applications. These technological advances hold the promise of repairing organs and helping regrow missing limbs, of controlling and ultimately curing diseases like Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and cancer, creating viable organs for transplant purposes and even helping produce life for those otherwise unable to bear children, among other things. Other genetic technologies also used to create new kinds of hybrid animals, to move genes between species to design animals with new kinds of traits, and to engineer bacteria for both medical and industrial uses. These technologies could also generate adverse effects on the environment, release pathogens and toxins, or facilitate the creation of biological weapons.
"The challenge of biotechnology as we move into the 21st century is how to harness its enormous power in a way that encourages human flourishing," said Paul Root Wolpe, the summit founder and executive director of the Emory University Center for Ethics. "Shaping our aspirations for the future and formulating reasonable limits on biotechnological inquiry will take a conversation among our greatest minds in science, policy, philosophy, ethics, religion, and the arts and humanities. As a first of its kind event, this summit aims to accomplish exactly that."
BEINGS will take place May 17-19, 2015 in Atlanta with The Coca-Cola Company serving as presenting sponsor. Delegates from the world's top 30 biotechnology producing countries, distinguished academic faculty, students, companies, scientists and any other parties with a vested interest will be present to offer their insight on how to establish a desirable and ethical future for cellular biotechnology. The summit will hear from advocates as well as critics of these technologies, and all are welcome.