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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.



When Baby-Making Moves From the Bedroom to the Laboratoryby Natalie SchreyerMother JonesJuly 28th, 2016Hank Greely discusses the growing shift towards assisted reproduction.
Human Enhancement Freaks People Out, Study Finds; Designer Babies Might 'Meddle With Nature'by Ed CaraMedical DailyJuly 26th, 2016Survey reveals more wariness than excitement for genetic technologies that would 'enhance' people.
Human Enhancement: The Scientific and Ethical Dimensions of Striving for Perfectionby David MasciPew Research CenterJuly 26th, 2016Genetic technologies raise questions ranging from the technical to the social.
Medical schools must play a role in addressing racial disparitiesby Jocelyn Stried, Margaret Hayden, Rahul Nayajk & Cameron NuttSTATJuly 25th, 2016Medical schools must be proactive because racism is written into their very textbooks.
Craig Venter’s Latest Productionby Arlene WeintraubMIT Technology ReviewJuly 25th, 2016Venter's startup is using data to explore the links between our DNA and illness.
Taking Genomic Data Globalby Elizabeth WoykeMIT Technology ReviewJuly 25th, 2016Startups focused on Asia are among those aiming to bring precision medicine to far more people.
Turning back the biological clock comes at a price by Rhiannon Lucy CosslettThe GuardianJuly 25th, 2016Egg freezing is marketed as the answer to precarious young lives yet excludes most of those it claims to help.
'Activist judge' compares surrogacy to human traffickingby Daniel BiceMilwaukee-Wisconsin Journal SentinelJuly 24th, 2016The couple was forced to take second and third mortgages out on their home, but they were finally granted parental rights.
Chinese parents look to genes to see what talents their child hasby Yang XiGlobal TimesJuly 24th, 2016Some parents believe this helps them make parenting decisions, including what extracurricular activities their children pursue.
Can this woman cure ageing with gene therapy?by Dara Mohammadi & Nicola DavisThe GuardianJuly 24th, 2016Elizabeth Parrish has tried out her company’s anti-aging gene therapy, but the biology of aging may be more complicated than we understand.
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