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France was the first country to create a National Consultative Ethics Committee. Its intended role is to single out issues arising out of progress in the life sciences and submit them for the consideration of society. 

On February 23, 1983, after the research summit “Assises de la recherche”, President François Mitterrand issued a decree creating the first National Consultative Ethics Committee for Health and Life Sciences.

The issues of medically assisted procreation and experiments on humans were the first to be addressed by the CCNE. But its scope of investigation soon extended to other topics, such as research on human embryos, access to genetic information and the concept of consent.