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Ethics and war challenge biologists

Despite low turnout, ideals and impassioned discussion dominate AIBS meeting.

Eugene Russo(erusso@the-scientist.com)

War with Iraq created both logistical difficulties and a new layer of relevance for this year's annual American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) meeting, held March 21-23 in Arlington, Va. Titled "Bioethics in a Changing World," the meeting brought together a small group of ecologists, plant biologists, organismic biologists, environmental scientists, and others to discuss ethical issues that impact their work and respective fields.

According to Gene Likens, AIBS immediate past-president and director of the Institute for Ecosystem Studies, meeting organizers consciously chose to focus on topics other than the usual biomedical ethics fare of stem cells and cloning. Instead, they examined issues of particular interest to AIBS members: analysis and reporting of data, public dissemination of scientific information, training the next generation of scientists in bioethics and ethical use of land.

Executive director Richard O'Grady noted that convincing biologists that bioethics was an important meeting topic, relevant...

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