The Washington Post on Thursday profiled the Hinxton Group, a group of 60 bioethicists and stem cell researchers from 14 countries that released ethical guidelines for stem cell research in order to clarify conflicting international policies on the subject (Weiss, Washington Post, 3/2). The policies, which the group released Friday at Cambridge University in Britain, include asking journals to require that researchers confirm that their findings correspond with national guidelines, establishing a public Web site for researchers to share findings and building an ethical consensus between nations on new areas of research. The guidelines say countries should not punish scientists "who want to travel to do work that is undertaken with scientific and ethical integrity" (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 2/28). In addition, the group's consensus statement recommends that journal editors require authors to submit signed statements noting any conflicts of interest. The Hinxton collaborators reached an agreement on the 15 standards and strategies by "sidestepping some of the more difficult issues, such as the moral status of embryos," the Post reports. The guidelines would not replace national laws but would "codify basic rules of acceptable behavior in the many jurisdictions that lack stem cell laws," including the U.S., the Post reports. The group added that lawmakers should be "clear and explicit" when passing legislation regarding stem cell research. A separate group, called the International Society for Stem Cell Research, in July is expected to release its own set of guidelines, which likely will be largely influenced by recommendations given last year by the National Academy of Sciences (Washington Post, 3/2).

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