RSC-Universities forums on taboo topics
This document is an outcome of a joint Royal Society of Canada / Universities Forum. This forum is one of some twenty events organized by the Royal Society and a group of Canadian universities to critically examine some thorny questions of national concern that have not received the attention they deserve and have not been fully explained in non-technical terms to citizens and policy makers. Over twenty such forums are planned for 2005 under the general title of RSC-Universities Forums on Taboo Topics.
This particular forum was held at the University of Ottawa on May 17, 2005.
Forums SRC-Universités sur des sujets tabous
Ce document est le résultat d’une initiative conjointe de la Société Royale du Canada et des universités canadiennes. Ce forum est l’un d’une vingtaine d’événements organisés par la Société Royales du Canada et un groupe d’universités canadiennes pour examiner de manière critique certains problèmes épineux d’intérêt national qui n’ont pas reçu l’attention qu’ils méritent et n’ont pas été exposés en termes relativement simples de manière à ce que les citoyens et les définisseurs de situation puissent en apprécier les enjeux majeurs. Une vingtaine de ces Forums sont planifiés à travers le pays en 2005 sous la bannière Forums SRC-Universités sur des sujets tabous.
Cet événement particulier s'est tenu à l'Université d'Otttawa le 17 mai 2005.
From one point of view, the stem cell forum on May 17 at the University of Ottawa took place three days too early. By May 20 the audience would have known of a development that brought many of the issues under discussion at the forum into sharper and more immediate focus.
As reported in Science magazine just those three days later, a research team in South Korea had successfully produced the first embryonic stem cells to genetically match injured or ailing patients. They accomplished this using a technique called somatic nuclear cell transfer, popularly known as therapeutic cloning. By either name this procedure is considered a crime under Canada’s law governing human reproductive technology, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
Most of the Canadian stem cell researchers who took part in the afternoon forum at Tabaret Hall knew about this important development because they had read pre-publication copies of the Science report and (in several instances) already provided journalists with their views in advance. Under Science’s embargo strictures, however, they were not allowed to reveal to the audience that this important development was no longer somewhere in the indeterminate future, but was already fact.
Yet knowing that another stem cell Rubicon had been crossed would likely have changed little in the views expressed by the speakers, panelists, and audience brought together under the auspices of the Royal Society of Canada and the University of Ottawa. That’s because the Korean advance was exactly what most had already predicted as the probable next step in embryonic stem cell research, although not quite so soon. For some, it was further evidence of the vast promise of such work. For others, it was equal evidence of the immense peril.