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About California Policies & Human Biotechnology


California has been a pioneer in several aspects of policy on new biotechnologies, most notably with the passage in 2004 of Proposition 71, which established the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and authorized to distribute and oversee $3 billion in public funds to support stem cell research and build research facilities over ten years.

The CIRM has been closely watched by other states and countries. It launched two experiments: the first an experiment in biomedical investigation; the second in its politics and policy. Never before has a state so generously funded an emerging scientific field. And never before has a state been faced with regulating and overseeing a field that combines promising medical research with significant social risks.

Before that, the California Advisory Committee on Human Cloning issued a report that led to a state ban on reproductive cloning. In 2003, a state agency blocked the sale of genetically modified fish as pets. In 2006, the state legislature passed a law providing protections for women who may provide eggs for cloning-based stem cell research.



Palo Alto committee debates whether Jordan school should keep its eugenicist namesakeby Jacqueline LeeSan Jose Mercury NewsNovember 17th, 2016David Starr Jordan, Stanford University’s first president, believed the human race could be improved through selective reproduction, including forced sterilization.
San Diego Scientists Help Develop New Twist On In Vitro Fertilizationby David WagnerKPBSNovember 10th, 2016The patent holder for a related "3-person IVF" technique reports new work with "polar body genome transfer." Some experts say none of these approaches have been proven safe.
Colin Kaepernick’s 'I Know My Rights Camp' cements his status as a cultural superhero in the black communityby Shaun KingNew York Daily News October 29th, 2016NFL player Colin Kaepernick distributed DNA ancestry tests at a "Know My Rights" youth camp in Oakland, citing their reconciliation value.
The controversial DNA search that helped nab the 'Grim Sleeper' is winning over skepticsby Marisa GerberLos Angeles TimesOctober 25th, 2016Use of familial DNA to solve crimes is growing in popularity, raising concerns of 4th Amendment unreasonable search and seizure violations.
California stem cell agency approves $30 million to fast-track clinical trialsby David JensenThe Sacramento BeeOctober 19th, 2016Dubbed the new "pitching machine," CIRM's new $30 million effort is designed to accelerate clinical trials of stem cell therapies.
Scandals Waiting to Happen: Institutional Conflicts of Interest at California Stem Cell Agencyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 8th, 2016StemCells Inc., which has received tens of millions of dollars from the state-funded stem cell agency, paid its president a hefty sum when he joined its board a week after resigning his position.
Victory: Eggs-for-Research Bill Dies in California Legislatureby Emily Galpern, Biopolitical Times guest contributorSeptember 8th, 2016A bill that would have expanded the commercial markets for human eggs, putting women’s health at risk, never made it to the Governor’s desk.
Stem Cell Company Paid $443,500 to Former Head of State Agency That Funds Researchby David JensenThe Sacramento BeeSeptember 1st, 2016Conflict-of-interest allegations have dogged the agency since it was created in 2004 by California voters to use state bond proceeds to finance stem cell research.
Public policy must address technology’s impact[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by John M. HeinThe Sacramento BeeAugust 13th, 2016“We need to develop habits of mind, or habits of social interaction, that will allow for some very robust public participation on the use of these powerful technologies,” says Marcy Darnovsky.
Booming demand, state protections attract commercial surrogate birthingby Kathy RobertsonSacramento BeeAugust 5th, 2016California has more surrogacy regulation than most states. But the founder of an agency comments, "Anybody in the whole world – even a felon – can open an agency. There is no licensing, no background check."
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