BBC seeks RSC chief executive's views on ethics code

13 September 2007

The Royal Society of Chemistry is quoted on the BBC News website today in coverage of a controversial speech by Gordon Brown's science adviser, that a code of ethics be established for scientists.

Professor Sir David King's call for a scientists' code - like the Hippocratic Oath for doctors - provoked widespread media interest and paved the way to the Royal Society of Chemistry issuing a statement underlining the fact that the society already had such a code of conduct to which Sir David was a signatory:

Royal Society of Chemistry already has an ethics code

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) fully supports the call for a code of ethics for all scientists made this morning by Sir David King FRSC, the Government's chief scientific adviser. 

We are proud that all of our 44,000 members across the world, including Sir David King himself, have already signed up to such a code and subject themselves to independent regulation and scrutiny of their professional duties. Our members outwardly demonstrate their commitment to a code of conduct and signal to the public their professionalism and integrity through the use of professional designatory letters. UK scientific professional bodies have long provided leadership in this area and the international community must be encouraged to follow practice.

As a result of the RSC statement, the BBC in the West Midlands interviewed RSC chief executive Dr Richard Pike and later the BBC website, which has a worldwide reach, quoted the society.

Speaking to a BBC presenter, Richard Pike welcomed the comments made by Sir David, as endorsing the role of scientific and engineering professional bodies, and stressed that it was essential to have a regulatory framework to support such a code so that in the case of infringements sanctions could be applied properly and effectively.

He added that the RSC was one of a number of organisations that had had the foresight to compile and implement a code of practice many years ago, with the appropriate procedures within a regulatory framework, and that it had been employed practically on a number of occasions, proving that it was a genuine tool for maintaining standards and professionalism amongst chemical scientists. This obliges scientists to work in the public interest, taking account of the prevailing state of scientific knowledge, and also of wider legislative and environmental issues. 

Furthermore, the RSC recognises that the ultimate consequence of conflict on matters of conscience or judgement may be resignation by the employee, rather than risking practising in an unethical way.

Related Links

Link icon UK science head backs ethics code
News feature on BBC website

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