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About Bioethics & Human Biotechnology


Bioethics established itself in the late 1960s as a field concerned with the ethical and philosophical implications of certain biological and medical procedures, technologies, and treatments. Early issues included end-of-life decision-making, organ donation, and human experimentation. Human biotechnology became a concern when the first bioethics institutes were established in the early 1970s. This attention skyrocketed in 1990 when the U.S. Human Genome Project earmarked 3% to 5% of its $3 billion federal budget to the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) research program, making its activities the world's largest bioethics program.

Bioethics initially represented diverse ethical philosophies. But by the mid-1980s, most professional bioethicists were grounded in individualist and utilitarian frameworks. Bioethicists appropriately continued to consider informed consent, patient safety and similar topics, but their attention to the broad social and political meanings of human biotechnologies had faded.

This shift has been unfortunate for the public's understanding. Most bioethicists present themselves as disinterested analysts who can be trusted to represent a full range of constituencies: researchers, biotech corporations, patients, religious groups, marginalized communities, and other affected parties. But in fact, many promote their own world views, which often emphasize libertarian values over commitments to the public interest.

The role of bioethics has been further compromised by its increasing financial and professional ties to the biotech industry. Many university bioethics centers receive funding from biotech corporations, and many bioethicists serve as paid or unpaid members of corporate "ethical advisory boards."



Congress Should Support Access to Post-Conviction DNA Testingby Kirk BloodsworthThe HillJuly 29th, 2015"If not for post-conviction DNA testing, I might still be in prison, or worse, I could have been executed."
Law Banning Commercial Surrogacy Takes Effect ThursdayBangkok PostJuly 29th, 2015A new law banning commercial surrogacy takes effect July 30 even as controversy continues to swirl around children born before the law was passed this winter.
CRISPR/Cas Gene-Editing Technique Holds Great Promise, but Research Moratorium Makes Sense Pending Further Study by Jeff Bessen The Conversation July 29th, 2015In the enthusiasm and hype surrounding CRISPR, it is easy to forget that the technology has been in wide use for barely three years and the accompanying risks are not yet known.
Stars, Bars, and Embryosby Emma ManiereBiopolitical TimesJuly 28th, 2015Controversies about the confederate flag and prenatal genetic testing are far more complex than "choice" and "intent" suggest.
Cutting-Edge Technology and Mitochondrial Diseases - Where is the Limit?by Dusko IlicBioNewsJuly 27th, 2015In their latest study, Shoukrat Mitalipov and collaborators report on two potential 'gene correction' strategies that can help patients with mitochondrial diseases.
Sperm Donor Fathers Reveal Struggle of Not Knowing Who Their Kids Areby Lauren McMahPerth Now [Australia]July 26th, 2015“A lot of the commentary and discussion focuses on the donor-conceived people but I think it’s equally important to look at the impact on donors."
Outsourcing Motherhood: India's Reproductive Dystopiaby Namita KohliHindustan TimesJuly 26th, 2015Stories of DNA mismatches, abandoned babies, and unscrupulous practices at IVF clinics suggest that commercial surrogacy in the country is almost in a state of lawlessness.
Putting a Price on a Human Egg by Ashby JonesThe Wall Street JournalJuly 26th, 2015A lawsuit claims that price guidelines used by fertility clinics artificially suppress the amount women can get for their eggs.
India’s DNA Profiling Bill May Become One of the World’s Most Intrusive Lawsby Akshat RathiQuartzJuly 24th, 2015India’s prime minister wants to ensure that DNA analysis is used more widely to convict criminals despite many flaws in the proposed bill.
Scientist Criticizes Media Portrayal of Researchby Chris WoolstonNature NewsJuly 24th, 2015A psychology researcher looks at media missteps in reporting work on music and the brain.
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