events archive

Genes and Society

10:00am, Saturday 26 April 2003, Battersea Arts Centre

Genetics is one of the most-high profile issues of our times. New discoveries generate media coverage almost every day and spark excitement, awe, fear and contention in equal measure. Genetic discoveries are thought to have significant implications for health, medicine, reproduction, religion, food, the environment, industry, insurance, employment, privacy, self-identity and even terrorism. The effect of genetics goes way beyond the laboratory with concerns and interest being reflected in popular culture through film, TV, art, and heated media discussions.

April 2003 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Crick and Watson’s famous paper on the structure of DNA in the scientific journal Nature. The Institute of Ideas’ weekend-long Genes and Society Festival, in association with Pfizer, brings together a host of scientists, writers, social commentators, regulators, philosophers, artists and campaigners to reflect on and debate the many implications of genetic discoveries and advances.

Does genetics throw up uniquely new and difficult ethical dilemmas? Can scientists, industry and government’ be trusted to employ genetic technologies to the benefit of all? Have we become too suspicious of those involved in science? Are there any moral or natural limits to what humans should attempt to manipulate and control? Are we overreacting to the unfamiliar? These are only a few of the important and varied questions to be discussed.