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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."



Anne Wojcicki’s Quest to Put People in Charge of Their Own Health[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Stephanie LeeSan Francisco ChronicleFebruary 28th, 201523andMe has attracted nearly 1 million customers and more than $126 million in venture capital, but not everyone thinks it should be the one to collect their data.
Reproduction 3.0by Leah RamsayBioethics BulletinFebruary 26th, 2015When you use a technology in a new way like this, it really challenges our notions of what it means to be a parent and what it means to be a family.
How Much Do Stem Cell Treatments Really Cost?by Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogFebruary 22nd, 2015Part of the way that clinics cut corners to boost their profits is by not following FDA regulations, putting patients in danger.
Thailand Bans Commercial Surrogacy for ForeignersBBCFebruary 20th, 2015Thailand has passed a law banning foreigners from paying Thai women to be surrogates, after two high-profile cases sparked debate last year.
Internet of DNAby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewFebruary 19th, 2015A global network of millions of genomes could be medicine’s next great advance, but important challenges remain.
A primer on DNA forensicsby Blair CrawfordOttawa CitizenFebruary 18th, 2015Improved technology and automation means DNA profiles can now be done in a matter of days and, in the future, the wait could be reduced to just hours. But DNA evidence is hardly infallible.
Precision Medicine Has Imprecise Ethics by Craig KlugmanBioethics.netFebruary 18th, 2015Will precision medicine increase or decrease health disparities? Will having a certain genetic subtype of a disease increase or decrease stigmatization of the disease?
Blog: Three Parent IVFby Dr Trevor StammersSt Mary’s University BlogFebruary 16th, 2015At our current stage of understanding of the interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, this proposed new therapy could turn out to be a monstrous mistake.
Three Parent Babies: Unethical, Unnecessary, Unsafe by Philippa TaylorBioNewsFebruary 16th, 2015The risks these new experiments hold for the lives and health of human embryos, children and egg donors, and the unprecedented modification of the human germline, together provide a case for not crossing this Rubicon.
ADF to European Parliament: UK ‘Three-Parent Embryo’ Legislation IllegalGlobal DispatchFebruary 13th, 2015Couples can be helped without tampering with the building blocks of humanity. The issue comes down to fundamental human rights and the constitutional traditions of the member states.
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