The Dutch Forum for Biotechnology and Genetics (FBG) was set up by Ms Ross-van Dorp, State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sports, on 1 January 2003. The Forum was formed by merging two commissions that had been set up three years previously, namely the Commissie Medische Biotechnologie (‘Medical Biotechnology Commission’) and the Commissie Humane Genetica, Gezondheid en Gezondheidszorg (‘Human Genetics, Health and Health Care Commission’).
Mr D.J.D. Dees became Chairperson of the new Forum. With effect from 2012 the Chairperson is Mrs. prof.dr. M. de Visser.
The FBG's Secretariat is comprised of the General Secretary, dr. G. Engel. The Forum has two additional secretaries. One of the secretaries is dr. P.A. Bolhuis, the other position is held by dr. P. Bertens.
The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports provided funding for the FBG’s operations until 31 December 2015. Consultations will be in held in 2015 to review an extension of this period. This extension is related to the FBG’s role in detailing the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports’ medical-biotechnology policy agenda.
FBG is of the opinion that society is insufficiently prepared for the rapid developments in medical biotechnology and genetics, as a result of which there is a risk that scientific achievements will either fail to benefit patients or be made available to them only after long delays. Consequently the FBG is of the opinion that the Forum’s primary objective is to identify new developments in medical biotechnology and human genetics, and to encourage those developments that offer an added value to patient care.
The FBG also carries out evaluations, either on request or on its own initiative, of new administrative and political developments in terms of their contribution to the improvement of health care and public health. The Forum focuses on issues at a national administrative level or on a European scale that exert an influence on the Dutch situation or Dutch policy. The Forum carries out these evaluations in an objective manner. The FBG is not an interest group, and consequently it does not represent the interests of its members. However, the Forum appreciates that these interests do play a role in the opinions of its members, and for this reason unequivocal standpoints adopted by the FBG reflect the uniform opinions of its members. When the members’ various opinions cannot be reconciled with each other the Forum clarifies the differences of opinion and interests. In the event of differences of opinion the Forum enters into in-depth consultations and discussions in an endeavour to arrive at a standpoint that is acceptable to all parties.
Finally, FBG perceives its duties to include encouraging opinion-forming in the public domain. This duty needs to be worked out in more detail.
The FBG primarily fulfils its duties by acting as a forum for a comprehensive network of parties active in medical biotechnology and human genetics. The 43 organizations in this network are comprised of patient associations, health-care providers, health-insurance companies, scientists, the (pharmaceutical) industry, and the authorities. The network offers the parties an opportunity to inform each other, at an early stage, of new developments and of the relevant national and international policy of relevance to those developments. Plenary meetings attended by all members are held on six occasions throughout the year.
Temporary working parties are set up to assess new developments in terms of their contribution to the improvement of health care and public health. The working parties are formed from delegates with the necessary expertise in the specific issue; when the members so request, experts from outside FBG can also participate in the relevant working party. Consequently each workgroup is representative of the relevant field and the expertise in that field.
The contributions from the working parties provide important information for the identification of relevant developments and the preparation of issue papers for submission to the national and international authorities and politicians. The preparation of documents of this nature is one of the FBG’s more important duties, since these documents encourage and contribute to objective communications, opinion-forming and decision-making by the Government, politicians, and other relevant organizations.
Examples of issues addressed in the past period include naked DNA, biobanks, human tissue engineered products, and prenatal screening.
Dutch Forum for Biotechnology and Genetics
PO Box 93245
2509 AE The Hague