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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."



How I Hacked My Best Friend’s Genome — And Could Hack Yours Tooby Sharon MoalemMediumApril 15th, 2014You just never know when someone may want to hack your genome.
The Baby Makers: Critics Push for Regulation of India's Booming Surrogacy IndustryABCApril 15th, 2014As more than 800 million Indians go to the polls this month, the main political party candidates are being urged to finally push through legislation to regulate the country's booming commercial surrogacy industry.
You Can't Clone Dogs Without Lots of Suffering - Why Scientist who Created World First 'Frankenstein Pet' has Quit by Christopher BucktinMirrorApril 12th, 2014Lou Hawthorne is the forefather of cloning yet, after two decades and 20 other genetically engineered pooches, he has turned his back on the industry, sickened over the suffering it causes thousands of dogs each year.
Human Rights Body Warns Over Mass DNA Screeningby Elaine EdwardsThe Irish TimesApril 11th, 2014A Government proposal which would allow the taking of DNA samples for “mass screening” of certain “classes” of individuals should be prohibited, Ireland's national human rights watchdog has said.
Stocking the Genetic Supermarket: Reproductive Genetic Technologies and Collective Action Problemsby Chris Gyngell and Thomas DouglasWiley Online LibraryApril 10th, 2014Reproductive genetic technologies targeting non-medical traits could lead to collective action problems. Does this risk justify state intervention in the genetic supermarket?
DNA Dreamsby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2014The documentary film that explores the inner workings of BGI Shenzhen, “the world’s largest genomics organization,” is now available in full on YouTube.
Embryo Screening and the Ethics of Human Genetic Engineering[Quotes CGS's Richard Hayes]by Leslie A. PrayIndian DefenceApril 8th, 2014In April 2008, Ronald M. Green published his case in support of the genetic engineering of embryos; Richard Hayes rebutted, warning of a "neo-eugenic future" and "the danger of genetic misuse."
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.
Stress Alters Children's Genomesby Jyoti MadhusoodananNatureApril 7th, 2014Growing up in a stressful social environment leaves lasting marks on young chromosomes, a study of African American boys has revealed.
Startup Offering DNA Screening of 'Hypothetical Babies' Raises Fears Over Designer Children[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Catherine de LangeThe GuardianApril 5th, 2014Anne Morriss and Lee Silver are about to launch a company called Genepeeks that uses the DNA of sperm donors and recipients to create "virtual babies."
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