2005 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Presenter Crosses the Picket Line, Joins BioDemocracy Convention

June 20, 2005

Applied Clinical Trials

Dr. Randy Zauhar, an official presenter at the Biotechnology Industry Organization Convention, will walk away from BIO and take a seat on the closing BioDemocracy 2005 panel.

PHILADELPHIA, PA, June 20--Dr. Randy Zauhar, an official presenter at the Biotechnology Industry Organization Convention, will walk away from BIO and take a seat on the closing BioDemocracy 2005 panel. He and other distinguished scholars will debate the loss of scientific integrity in the biotechnology industry. According to a survey conducted by the Association of University Teachers and the public service union Prospect suggests that one in 10 research scientists is under pressure to tailor findings to suit the work's sponsor. The panel will address this growing incidence of scientific research compromised to fit a corporate and profit-driven agenda. "Biotech companies carry out research not to protect human health and welfare, but to maximize profits," states Dr. Zauhar. "Scientists have a moral responsibility, as much as physicians, to apply their training to benefit society, and to be cognizant of the political and economic consequences of their actions."

The issue of ethics in medical biotechnology exploded in Philadelphia in September of 1999, when Jesse Gelsinger, age 18, was killed in a notorious "gene therapy" experiment at the University it Pennsylvania. The researcher conducting the experiment turned out to be an officer of a biotech company established to profit from such research.

This case along with similar controversies surrounding corporate-funding of scientific research will be addressed at 7pm at the Ethical Society (1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia). Joining Zauhar on the panel will be Sheldon Krimsky (Tufts University, Council for Responsible Genetics), Paul Connett (St. Lawrence University), Ricarda Steinbrecher (EcoNexus, UK), and Michael Hansen (Consumer Policy Institute).

This issue is integral to the broader discussion taking place throughout the BioDemocracy 2005 Mobilization, which commenced with the Reclaim the Commons Festival on Saturday. The BioDemocracy Convention has brought in over forty experts on issues ranging from biopharmaceuticals and genetic engineering to the proliferation of biological weapons. Located just blocks away from the meeting site of the BIO Convention, BioDemocracy 2005 offers a values-driven perspective in contrast to the profit-driven corporate agenda of BIO and its members. Corporations backing BIO include Philadelphia-based GlaxoSmithKline, as well as Monsanto, DuPont, and Bayer.

"We're very concerned about the control of corporations of what we, like most of the people in the world, believe are basic human rights," said Hart Feuer, one of the organizers from the BioDemocracy Convention. "It is unacceptable to the majority of Americans that healthcare, food, and our national security are being bought and sold to the highest bidder."

The BioDemocracy Convention culminates on the Summer Solstice, Tuesday, June 21st with a day of action. Supporters of consumer rights, freedom, security, and healthcare will fill the streets upholding the age-old tradition of responsible citizens influencing government through direct demands. Costumes, puppets, and music expressing the messages of the BioDemocracy Movement will accompany paraders through the streets.

Experts are available for interview throughout the BioDemocracy 2005 Mobilization, which concludes Tuesday evening's panelists.