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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.



Sperm Donor Fathers Reveal Struggle of Not Knowing Who Their Kids Areby Lauren McMahPerth Now [Australia]July 26th, 2015ďA lot of the commentary and discussion focuses on the donor-conceived people but I think itís equally important to look at the impact on donors."
Outsourcing Motherhood: India's Reproductive Dystopiaby Namita KohliHindustan TimesJuly 26th, 2015Stories of DNA mismatches, abandoned babies, and unscrupulous practices at IVF clinics suggest that commercial surrogacy in the country is almost in a state of lawlessness.
Scientist Criticizes Media Portrayal of Researchby Chris WoolstonNature NewsJuly 24th, 2015A psychology researcher looks at media missteps in reporting work on music and the brain.
Slipping Into Eugenics? Nathaniel Comfort on the History Behind CRISPRby Elliot HosmanBiopolitical TimesJuly 23rd, 2015Historian writing in The Nation unravels the social and political context of genetic research and eugenics in the United States to understand the future impact of CRISPR gene editing biotechnology.
The Ethical Sperm Bank: An All-Open Sperm Bank. An Idea Whose Time Has Comeby  Wendy KramerHuffington PostJuly 22nd, 2015These are the only solutions in the absence of government regulation. Perhaps in time and as public pressure mounts, regulation will follow.
The House of Hidden Mothers by Meera Syalby Aisha FarooqDESIblitz.com [UK]July 22nd, 2015A new novel explores issues of infertility and surrogacy that affect South Asian and British Asian society today.
US Tailored-Medicine Project Aims for Ethnic Balanceby Sara ReardonNature NewsJuly 21st, 2015The $215-million Precision Medicine Initiative is having trouble meeting an imminent deadline, in part because its priorities include filling racial and socio-economic gaps left by other long-term studies.
Can We Cure Genetic Diseases Without Slipping Into Eugenics?by Nathaniel ComfortThe NationJuly 16th, 2015Gene editing could correct genetic mutations for serious illnesses. Will it also create a new eugenics of personal choice?
The Regulatory System May Not Be Ready for Synthetic Organismsby Susana MedeirosRegBlogJuly 15th, 2015Synthetic microorganisms could reproduce, spread, and compete with natural organisms, and evolve to pose risks to humans, animals, and the environment.
Don't Mistake Genetics for Fateby Andrew Gelman & Kaiser FungThe Daily BeastJuly 11th, 2015Itís easy for the media to get misled on studies that seem to support genetic determinism. The result is that readers are exposed only to the puffery but only rarely to the skepticism.
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