Prof. Dr Johanna Wanka

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Hermann Gröhe

BMG/Jochen Zick

 

Preface

 

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!

 

Hermann Gröhe

Bundesminister Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages

 

 

 

 

 

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