In an increasingly technologically driven world, the accumulation of scientific knowledge often outpaces the ability of society to understand its full meaning, both in relation to the science itself and to its impact on the human condition. This is most apparent in the fields of biological and medical research. Here, the observations, experiments and theories that comprise contemporary biology have far-reaching implications for the way humans view themselves, interact with each other, and make decisions for themselves and others. This should come as no surprise since the systematic and scientific study of the natural world has raised broad societal questions for as long as the practice has existed.
Over the centuries, debates have raged about when human life begins and under what circumstances it is permissible to end it. These questions, reformulated in part by modern technology, remain important. The elucidation of evolutionary theory in the nineteenth century focused attention on the seminal questions of the origins of life and of the human species. In addition, it has had profound effects on the way we view the development of society. Not surprisingly, the stunning achievements of modern biology have also had significant consequences for society. Breakthroughs in genetics, stem-cell propagation