The first issue centers on a report draft currently in circulation
for comment by a National Bioethics Advisory Committee
that Clinton appointed back in 1995 to address public
concern over potential abuses in genetics research. The report
calls for measures to protect human participants that, while
perhaps reasonable for biomedical research, would constitute a
huge and irrelevant burden for the mainly benign behavioral
kind. If adopted, these measures would greatly exacerbate the
current problems that many of our scientists encounter with
Institutional Review Boards and would seriously hamper – if
not eliminate – some HF/E research.
The reason the measures were written that way is simply
because behavioral researchers weren’t invited to the drafting
party – an oversight, unfortunately, that’s all too common in
Policyland. Hence our only recourse is to complain as loudly as
we can about the omission and point out the potential ramifications.
The current “comment period” offers us that opportunity,
and HFES is joining the behavioral science community in
grabbing it. We feel comfortable in doing so because we’re
confident that, although probably unaware of the threat, the
HFES membership would strongly endorse it.