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About US Federal Policies & Human Biotechnology


Federal regulations on most human biotechnologies are inadequate, falling far short of the kind of comprehensive approach that is needed. This situation is due to the unique social and policy challenges posed by human biotechnologies, to the anti-regulatory environment of recent years, and to the divisive politics and religious beliefs that accompany issues involving human embryos.

One regulatory failure is Congress's inability to pass a law prohibiting human reproductive cloning. Nine in ten Americans oppose it, as does every member of Congress and nearly every reputable scientist. Bills that would prohibit reproductive cloning have been introduced several times, but have failed because of disagreements over research cloning.

Another failure is assisted reproduction's scant regulation and oversight. Despite numerous reported abuses and billions of dollars in revenues, federal oversight remains limited to collecting data on success rates.

Medical gene transfer (also called gene therapy) is slightly different. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are supposed to oversee each clinical trial. But researchers have often ignored this requirement, as revealed most dramatically after the death of 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger in a gene transfer experiment.

The most publicized aspect of federal biotechnology policy have been the limitation on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research that was imposed by President Bush in 2001 and removed by President Obama in 2009.



Development in cloning research underscores need for US to prohibit reproductive cloning[Press statement]April 17th, 2014Public interest group also questions risks to women who provide eggs and implications for health equity.
How Long Is Immortality?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 15th, 2014A Russian millionaire created a big splash less than a year ago when he sponsored a conference at the Lincoln Center about mind uploading and immortality, but seems to have fallen off the media radar, at least in the U.S.
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.
Fearing Punishment for Bad Genesby Kira PeikoffThe New York TimesApril 7th, 2014People are avoiding genetic testing because of a major omission in the 2008 federal law that bars employers and health insurers from seeking the results of the tests.
DARPA Carves Out New Division to Entice Biotech Talentby Kelly ServickScienceApril 3rd, 2014The US Department of Defense is making a concerted grasp at biotechnology. DARPA will consolidate biology research scattered across its existing divisions and possibly expand the arsenal of projects.
Update on Controversial Police DNA Collection in the Statesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 3rd, 2014In California, the Court of Appeals confirmed that police may take DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony, at least for now; many other states, but not all, do the same.
Letter to HFEA: Consider the Risks of “Mitochondrial Manipulation” Discussed by the FDA by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesMarch 21st, 2014A letter signed by 53 prominent scholars and advocates has been sent to the UK agency considering clinical trials of so-called "mitochondrial manipulation."
Breast Cancer Genes and Patient Protection in an Era of Personalized Medicineby Karuna JaggarHuffington PostMarch 20th, 2014Genetic testing is often heralded as a cornerstone of personalized medicine, but progress has lagged while persistent medical, ethical and scientific issues abound.
Technology: The $1,000 Genomeby Erika Check HaydenNature NewsMarch 19th, 2014With a unique programme, the US government has managed to drive the cost of genome sequencing down towards a much-anticipated target.
His Fertility Advance Draws Ire: Shoukhrat Mitalipov’s Mitochrondrial Manipulations[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Sabrina TeverniseNew York TimesMarch 15th, 2014To Shoukhrat Mitalipov, the mysterious power producers inside every human cell are a lifelong obsession.
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