Mini-festival targets thorny bioethics issues

Original award-winning documentaries examining timely issues of bioethics and biotechnology applications are the focus of a mini-festival currently being held at the National Research Foundation in central Athens. Organized under the auspices of the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the General Secretariat of Research and Technology is showing a series of documentary films, computer displays on bioethical issues (including works by artist Alexis Rockman) and an exhibition of studies by academics and philosophers. Among the 12 films that will be shown are the Emmy Award-winning «Bioterror,» an American production tracing the investigation by three New York Times journalists as they investigate the production and use of bioweapons through history, starting with last year’s anthrax scare. America’s Sarah Holt presents «Eighteen Ways to Make a Baby» in an investigation of reproductive technology as it developed from the first test-tube baby in 1978 to current methods of genetic manipulation, while «Cracking the Code of Life» approaches genetics from a strictly scientific angle, with an examination of the effects the decodification of the human genome have had on approaches to health-related issues. Canada’s Geoffrey Burchfield takes issue with tissue engineering in «Spare Parts» as he presents a documentary about transplanting organs grown from foreign tissue, such as that of animals, while the question of tackling AIDS is the subject of two films. The festival ends on Monday with a symposium on «The Challenges of Biotechnology, Social and Ethical Questions in the European Community of the Future.» The focus of the lectures by academics and scientists from Greece and abroad will be on developing safe biotechnology applications, the role of government in creating a legislative framework for these applications, and the establishment of monitoring bodies. «Bio-Vision» at the National Research Foundation, 48 Vas. Constantinou, to November 25. For today’s screenings, see «What’s On.»

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