Bioethics forum to be an evolutionary affair

April 11, 2008

by Terry Devitt

The 2008 International Bioethics Forum, to be held April 17-18 at Promega Corporation's BioPharmaceutical Technology Center (BTC) in Fitchburg, will delve into the science and controversies of evolution in the 21st Century.

Speakers include a prominent lineup of biologists, paleontologists, historians of science and experts on policy and education.

Evolution, the process of change over time in the heritable characteristics or traits of a population of organisms, is a bedrock theory of modern biology. In recent years, it has become socially controversial, as proponents of creationism and intelligent design have argued the theory does not adequately explain the complexity of life. Efforts to integrate alternative theories of life into school curricula have generated much public debate and legal wrangling.

At the forum, talks will cover topics such as the evidence for evolution, the history of anti-evolutionism, evolution and faith, and evolution in the classroom. Speakers include Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education; Sean Carroll, a leading molecular and evolutionary biologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Ronald Numbers, a UW-Madison historian of science; and John Haught, a Georgetown University professor of theology and expert on science and religion.

The Bioethics Forum, now in its seventh year, is intended to provide the public with access to accurate scientific information and discussion of related social and ethical issues.

"Forums like these are essential to ensure we explore the multiple implications of our work in the life sciences," says William A. Linton, president and CEO of Promega Corp., the forum's main sponsor. "Every year, the BTC Institute has brought the most challenging topics to the table for discussion and this year's topic — examining what genetics adds to the dialogue about evolution — continues the tradition."

The forum is open to the public and the registration fee is $75. The BioPharmaceutical Technology Center is located in Fitchburg Center, 5445 E. Cheryl Parkway, just off South Fish Hatchery Road.