Terms of reference

The terms of reference were as follows:

1. To survey and report on the current and prospective medical and scientific uses made of sub-cellular structures, cells and their products, tissue and organs hereinafter referred to as human tissue;

2. To give some account of developments in research and exploitation of tissue, identifying current and potential benefits and current and potential difficulties;

3. To identify and define ethical issues and questions of public policy and current practices arising from the use and exploitation of human tissue, including such matters as:

a) the source of the tissue, eg patient, healthy volunteer, cadaver, fetus;

b) the relationship between the person using the tissue for research or therapeutic purposes and the source from which it derives;

c) consent, particularly as regards the potential foreseeable consequences flowing from the intended use;

d) rights in and exploitation of knowledge acquired from research:

  • particularly claims to exclusive use of such knowledge through use of intellectual property rights
  • and generally the notion of regarding human tissue as a commodity, in particular as a commodity in some cases of significant commercial value.