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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.



With CRISPR in Humans On the Horizon, Will the Public Back Intellia?by Alex LashXconomyApril 29th, 2016Intellia and Editas both lack what so many biotech investors crave: data from human clinical trials. As they race to the clinic, it's hard to tell if either company will pay off.
Let people most affected by gene editing write CRISPR rulesby Jessica HamzelouNew ScientistApril 29th, 2016The US National Academies' committee on human gene editing held a discussion in Paris at the French National Academy of Medicine.
A DNA Sequencer in Every Pocketby Ed YongThe AtlanticApril 28th, 2016Oxford Nanopore Technologies, who severed financial ties with DNA sequencing monolith Illumina in 2013, is "desperately thinking of ways of bringing them down”, in particular: the MinION.
Meet The New CEO Of The $22 Billion Genomics Company You've Never Heard Ofby Christine FarrFast CompanyApril 27th, 2016Gene-sequencing giant Illumina is expanding to direct-to-consumer tests and perhaps brand partnerships, says new CEO Francis deSouza.
Editorial: Editing human genes the CRISPR wayby Editorial BoardThe Chicago TribuneApril 27th, 2016Can we trust scientists and governments to set ethical boundaries for research and therapeutic use — and then stick to them? We're skeptical.
Gay couple win custody battle against Thai surrogate motherby Oliver HolmesThe Guardian [US]April 26th, 2016The central juvenile and family court ruled in favor of American Gordon Lake, the biological father of 15-month-old Baby Carmen.
Dwarfism, Chemical Limb Lengthening, and Informed Consentby Joseph StramondoInternational Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics BlogApril 25th, 2016CA biotech BioMarin Pharmaceuticals has completed Phase 2 of a drug clinical trial designed to "normalize" annual growth but not address health complications of dwarfism.
Inside the Hidden Global Supply Chain for Frozen Sperm, Eggs, and Embryosby Sarah ZhangWIREDApril 25th, 2016Ever-changing laws and attitudes, which vary not only country by country but within a country, can make transportation logistically difficult.
God’s Red Pencil? CRISPR and The Three Myths of Precise Genome Editingby Jonathan LathamIndependent Science NewsApril 25th, 2016CRISPR is the latest platform in a 70-year-old "gospel of precision" used to justify moving quickly with new chemical and biological technologies, despite decades of disasters and unintended consequences.
US moves to sell gene-edited mushrooms fuel doubts over British ban on GM importsby Robin McKieThe Guardian April 23rd, 2016The USDA approved CRISPR-modified crops, but a European regulatory committee's delays are dismaying some UK researchers.
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