Bundesregierung / Steffen Kugler (am Bild) oder Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung, Steffen Kugler, S. X (Sammelbildnachweis).
Greetings from the Federal Minister of Education and Research
Genetic engineering is an important tool for groundbreaking research in the natural sciences and can be used in a wide range of applications. Over the last few years, the techniques of genetic engineering have undergone rapid developments. They offer significant opportunities in various fields of modern life sciences, for example fundamental scientific research, plant and animal breeding and human medical applications. They can help to meet the challenges of the 21 st century, for example by improving the environmental resistance of plants or fighting animal diseases. However, besides their enormous scientific potential, developments in the field of genetic engineering also raise ethical, legal and social issues that need close consideration and call for both a scientific and public discourse.
A transparent, free and open exchange of research information and results as a key part of the freedom of science is a prerequisite for successful research and application. The European Students’ Conference makes a vital contribution to this dialogue by bringing students, young researchers and renowned professors together. This is the reason why the European Students’ Conference has received financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for many years now.
I wish the organizers every success in preparing and holding the conference and hope that the participants will enjoy stimulating and useful discussions and the opportunity to build networks to foster even more international scientific exchange.
Prof. Dr Johanna Wanka
Federal Minister of Education and Research.
The motto “Genetic Engineering – when chance meets choice“ is addressing an urgent issue, both from the scientist’s perspective and under societal and ethical aspects. Therefore, I was very happy to assume the patronage of the 28th European Students‘ Conference at the Berlin Charité.
I am gratified to see young scientists engage with novel possibilities and challenges such as genetic engineering. This technology, if developed and used with responsibility, harbours immense opportunities, notably for the healing and prevention of disease. For many people, it is the focus of high expectations – their hope being, for instance, that it will advance the fight against cancer or Alzheimer’s.
It is true that we need innovation in medicine to do better at treating and, indeed, even curing disease. However, genetic engineering also raises questions that go beyond scientific and technological feasibility. Not every technological advance is automatically in the patients’ best interest. Instead, any potential benefit must be weighed against the societal and legal implications involved. And we must, of course, also critically discuss the ethical challenges they present. What comes to mind here is, for instance, the individual’s right not to be informed about the increased likelihood of developing an as yet incurable condition. Therefore, it is reassuring to note that ‘Ethics‘ has a firm place on the Conference agenda.
We are all keen for investigators to come up with treatments for conditions that have so far defied medical progress, exploring all avenues to that end. However, these research and development efforts should be guided by ethical, legal and societal considerations. By stimulating discussions, we can boost the acceptance of novel technologies and encourage the responsible and prudent management of the opportunities, limits and risks they present.
The 28th European Students‘ Conference will raise the participants‘ awareness of and attention to an array of questions. It will afford the attendants a very special opportunity to meet and have exchanges with acknowledged experts. Moreover, the participation of young scientists from many different countries will highlight the importance of making novel developments and technologies the subject of cross-country discussion.
I wish all of the participants in this Conference an exciting and stimulating exchange and many ground-breaking insights!
Bundesminister Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages