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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.



Bracing For A Battle, Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Billby Eliza Barclay and Jeremy BernfeldNPRApril 24th, 2014The Green Mountain State is poised to become the first to require food companies to label products containing genetically modified ingredients.
Guidelines for Finding Genetic Variants Underlying Human Diseaseby Daniel MacArthur and Chris GunterGenomes UnzippedApril 24th, 2014New DNA sequencing technologies are rapidly transforming the diagnosis of rare genetic diseases, but they make it potentially easy for researchers to spin a causal narrative around genetic changes that have nothing to do with disease status.
Invoking ‘Choice’ When Discussing Surrogacy as a Feminist Concern is a Mistakeby Susan Berke Fogel, Francine Coeytaux, Marcy Darnovsky, Lisa Ikemoto, and Judy NorsigianRH Reality CheckApril 23rd, 2014It is troubling to see the vexing question of commercial surrogacy treated as a litmus test for feminists; it can’t be understood in a simplistic pro-choice versus anti-choice framework, or as only a matter of self-determination.
Geneticist Cynthia Kenyon is Heading to Googleby Stephanie M. LeeSan Francisco ChronicleApril 20th, 2014Google's mysterious health venture dedicated to extending human life has quietly lured a biochemistry and biophysics professor acclaimed for her discoveries about the genetics of aging away from UCSF.
Should the U.S. Prohibit Reproductive Cloning?[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Tim SandleDigital JournalApril 18th, 2014Researchers have produced stem cell lines using somatic cell nuclear transfer from cells, making human reproductive cloning more technically feasible. Is this a good idea?
Scientists Make First Embryo Clones From Adults[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Gautam NaikThe Wall Street JournalApril 17th, 2014Scientists for the first time have cloned cells from two adults to create early-stage embryos, and then derived tissue from those embryos that perfectly matched the DNA of the donors.
Advocates for Children and Childhood Mobilizing on Concerns about GM Babiesby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesApril 17th, 2014Concern about "three-person embryo" techniques is growing among advocates for children and childhood.
Weighing the Scales on Genetic Informationby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 15th, 2014More people are choosing not to know what’s in their genome and more people are sharing the complexities and challenges of knowing. How can their choices and experiences inform policy?
The Baby Makers: Critics Push for Regulation of India's Booming Surrogacy IndustryABCApril 15th, 2014Candidates are being urged to finally push through legislation to regulate the country's booming commercial surrogacy industry. "The human rights of the surrogates are not being protected," said author and critic Kishwar Desai.
Guarantee Privacy to Ensure Proper Treatmentby Jeremy GruberThe New York Times, Room for DebateApril 14th, 2014As more and more of this personal information becomes public knowledge, it can be bought and sold by any commercial interests interested in predictive information about an individual's future health status.
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