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EASAC presentation for STOA panel

On 10 March 2011, the Chairman and the Secretary of EASAC’s Biosciences Steering Panel, Professor Volker ter Meulen and Dr Robin Fears, together with the head of EASAC’s Brussels Office, Ms. Sofie Vanthournout, visited a meeting of the STOA Panel, the organ that carries the political responsibility for STOA’s work, in Strasbourg.

STOA, the Science and Technology Options Assessment, is the scientific advisory unit of the European Parliament and delivers expert, independent assessments of the various scientific or technological options in the different policy sectors of relevance to the EU parliament. Its analysis of current issues is carried out in partnership with external experts from EU institutions, international institutions, universities, specialist institutes, academies and other sources of expertise.

During a 30 minute presentation, Professor ter Meulen outlined EASAC’s main activities and its latest policy report, on Synthetic Biology. In the following discussion, questions raised focused on issues for public engagement, on the need to communicate a benefit-risk balance of an unfamiliar technology with no current marketed products and patents and on how to combine scientific freedom to research with protection of innovation.

In a subsequent meeting with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the STOA Panel, MEP’s Paul Rübig and Malcolm Harbour, possibilities were discussed for closer cooperation between scientists and politicians. As a first step, Malcolm Harbour, who remembered EASAC’s previous work for STOA, offered to distribute the lay summary of EASAC's Synthetic Biology report to all MEPs.

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