Society (from local pressure groups to official regulatory bodies) seeks to control and regulate the development and application of scientific knowledge.
Official regulation can be government led such as The House of Commons Select Committee who monitor and propose relevant UK law and government funded research. You can read exactly what they said when recently discussing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990) with experts. Or it can be self- regulating such as peer review when scientists read and check each other’s work before it gets published.
There are a huge variety of ethics committees - where scientists meet to review proposals to conduct research - ranging from international bodies to a single university department. These committees are informed by guidelines, professional associations such as the American Psychological Association and the British Medical Association have their own and the international guiding principles were set down in Helsinki by the World Medical Association in 1964. Follow the link to see the latest version Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects .
Want to know more about ethics of science research? Try ERIC.