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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.



Our Focus on the Future Present by Jacob CornInnovative Genomics Initiative blogJuly 6th, 2015At this time, the Innovative Genomics Initiative Lab will not do research on human germline editing for the following several reasons.
Poverty Forces Workers' Wives to Become Surrogate Mothersby Neetu Chandra SharmaIndia TodayJuly 3rd, 201592 per cent of the surrogates in Delhi did not even have a copy of the contract and only 27 per cent of the clinics in Delhi and 11.4 per cent in Mumbai were party to the contract.
Surrogate Children Get Legal Recognition in Franceby Philippe SottoTimeJuly 3rd, 2015While surrogacy will remain banned in France, children born abroad through this practice will now be legally tied to their parents and will be granted birth certificates and French citizenship.
Gene Editingby Editorial BoardNature NewsJuly 1st, 2015Legislators in the US House of Representatives are asserting themselves in the human genetic modification debate, but as public awareness grows this much-needed ethical discussion will take root in broader society.
How the Law has Failed Children of Anonymous Sperm Donorsby Sarah DingleDaily Life [Australia]June 30th, 2015One of the many Australian donor conceived people created under an anonymous donation regime is now fighting for the right to know her biological background.
Governor Signs Law that Expands Access to Post-Conviction DNA Testingby Maxine BernsteinThe OregonianJune 30th, 2015Governor signs much-needed expansion of Oregon's post-conviction DNA testing law; courts have granted only one request for testing in the last 14 years under the previous more restrictive policy.
Who's Advising the Government on Human Genetics?by Alice MaynardBioNewsJune 29th, 2015A diversity of voices is needed to hold the UK government accountable, instead of relying upon experts to predict long-term consequences no one can accurately foresee.
US Congress Moves to Block Human-Embryo Editingby Sara ReardonNature NewsJune 25th, 2015The House appropriations committee has approved a spending bill that would prohibit the FDA from spending money to evaluate research or clinical applications on gene editing on human embryos.
CRISPR: Move Beyond Differencesby Charis ThompsonNature CommentJune 24th, 2015Researchers and ethicists need to see past what can seem to be gendered debates when it comes to the governance of biotechnology.
Building the Face of a Criminal From DNABBCJune 18th, 2015The face of a killer constructed from DNA left at the scene of a crime: it sounds like science fiction. But revealing the face of a criminal based on their genes may be closer than we think.
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