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About Biopolitics, Parties, Pundits & Human Biotechnology


Policy decisions about human biotechnologies have typically been debated among elite commissions and experts. But controversy is increasingly spilling over into mainstream news media and political debates.

This trend has been most notable in the United States, with the emergence of human embryonic stem cell research as a political issue. Stem cell debates at the policy level have made this discussion far more visible to the public.

The Bush Administration's restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research elevated the issue to the front pages of newspapers. Shortly after its announcement in 2001, partisan battle lines were drawn in ways that mirror the abortion rights divide.

Republicans hoped that opposition to research that destroys embryos would increase support among their party's religious conservative base. Democrats countered by assembling a coalition of patient advocates, biomedical researchers, and biotechnology entrepreneurs and appealed to moderate swing voters and Republicans who they believed would be swayed by promises of cures.

There were some notable exceptions to this partisan line-up. Some conservatives support embryonic stem cell research; some liberals and progressives who support the research in principle criticize aspects of its conduct and regulation. Unfortunately, the polarized debate has frequently distorted facts while obscuring a range of important social issues unrelated to the moral status of embryos.



Good Eggs, Bad Sperm and Terrible Journalismby Kirsty OswaldBioNewsMarch 2nd, 2015What a shame that by repackaging the findings to appeal to the mainstream press the true relevance of this research has been overlooked.
Reproduction 3.0by Leah RamsayBioethics BulletinFebruary 26th, 2015When you use a technology in a new way like this, it really challenges our notions of what it means to be a parent and what it means to be a family.
Your DNA is Everywhere. Can the Police Analyze it?by David KravetsArs TechnicaFebruary 20th, 2015A human sheds as much as 100 pounds of DNA-containing material in a lifetime and about 30,000 skin cells an hour. But who owns that DNA is the latest modern-day privacy issue before the US Supreme Court.
Thailand Bans Commercial Surrogacy for ForeignersBBCFebruary 20th, 2015Thailand has passed a law banning foreigners from paying Thai women to be surrogates, after two high-profile cases sparked debate last year.
Internet of DNAby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewFebruary 19th, 2015A global network of millions of genomes could be medicine’s next great advance, but important challenges remain.
A primer on DNA forensicsby Blair CrawfordOttawa CitizenFebruary 18th, 2015Improved technology and automation means DNA profiles can now be done in a matter of days and, in the future, the wait could be reduced to just hours. But DNA evidence is hardly infallible.
Precision Medicine Has Imprecise Ethics by Craig KlugmanBioethics.netFebruary 18th, 2015Will precision medicine increase or decrease health disparities? Will having a certain genetic subtype of a disease increase or decrease stigmatization of the disease?
EFF to Supreme Court: The Fourth Amendment Covers DNA Collectionby Press ReleaseElectronic Frontier FoundationFebruary 18th, 2015People have a Fourth Amendment right to privacy when it comes to their genetic material, the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues in an amicus brief filed this week with the Supreme Court.
Blog: Three Parent IVFby Dr Trevor StammersSt Mary’s University BlogFebruary 16th, 2015At our current stage of understanding of the interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, this proposed new therapy could turn out to be a monstrous mistake.
The Unknown Limits of Synthetic Biologyby Helia IghaniCouncil on Foreign RelationsFebruary 13th, 2015The greatest risk to U.S. national security is bioterrorism and the deliberate misuse of synthetic biology.
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