The main goal of the SATORI project is to develop a common European framework for ethical assessment of research and innovation. The project pursues this goal along a number of dimensions, including ongoing interaction with stakeholders. In conjunction with periodic SATORI newsletters, this blog invites suggestions for policy items to include in future issues of the newsletter. The SATORI blog complements the newsletter and creates another platform for SATORI stakeholders to become aware of new policy developments related to ethics assessment in research and innovation. In addition, this blog creates the possibility for stakeholders to engage in discussion and feedback on these developments. The blog will highlight areas in which stakeholders may wish to make their views known to policy makers regarding new developments.
We welcome your input and comments.
Here are a few highlights from our July 2016 newsletter:
Global News: The American Chemical Society has drafted a global code of ethics based on the Hague Ethical Guidelines from 2015. The intention behind the code is that it can be used as a basis for establishing ethical codes in chemistry for scientists in their home countries. It will be interesting to see whether the code is taken up as a foundation for codes in other countries. If so, we may see a movement towards international standardization of research ethics in chemistry. Are there reasons to think that contextual factors in other countries will create difficulties for using this code as a basis?
EU News: The Netherlands Presidency of the Council and representatives of the European Parliament agreed upon new rules for medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices on 25 May. The new rules have the ambitious (too ambitious?) goal of seeking to make the approval of new devices easier while simultaneously increasing the safety of those devices. One complaint about the new rules is that they will not take effect until three to five years from now.
The European Commission has adopted the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, a new framework that is intended to protect the rights of those in the EU whose personal data is transferred to the United States. The framework should also bring legal clarity for businesses that rely on transatlantic data transfers. The Privacy Shield is based on a number of principles, such as obligations for companies handling data, safeguards and transparency obligations on U.S. government access, effective protection of individual rights and an annual joint review mechanism. The Article 29 Working Party has already raised a number of concerns regarding the commercial aspects as well as the access by U.S public authorities to EU data transfers.
National News: Intersex is a rare condition of six to eight children born annually in Finland in which the sex of the child cannot be determined on the basis of physical characteristics. ETENE has issued a position statement on the treatment of such children. The statement recommends that measures should be taken to modify the person’s external gender characteristics when the child is able to define their own gender and form an opinion about their own sexuality. This difficult issue offers an example of the frequent tension between autonomy and beneficence in applied ethics. The position statement maximizes the autonomy of the intersex child by allowing the child to define the child’s own gender. An opposing argument, presumably, would appeal to the idea that allowing the child’s legal guardian to make that decision earlier would be more beneficent, perhaps reducing a risk of psychological stress. Will this recommendation lead to a more positive outcome for intersex children in Finland? It will be important for policy makers elsewhere to follow the answer to this question over the next several years.
Despite the UK vote to leave the EU, UK legal entities are still eligible to participate and receive funding in Horizon 2020 actions. In a statement on the UK referendum to leave the EU, the Heads of State or Government of 27 Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission confirmed that until the UK leaves the EU, EU law continues to apply to and within the UK. This includes the eligibility of UK legal entities to participate and receive funding in Horizon 2020 actions.