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About the Biotech & Pharma Industries & Human Biotechnology


The fast-growing biotech industry is playing a dominant role in shaping the development, marketing and use of human biotechnologies. Like the pharmaceutical industry, it profits by developing products aimed at treating disease and restoring health. Although some biotech products and activities are socially and ethically controversial, the industry as a whole tends to oppose public oversight and regulation.

This situation is complicated by increasingly blurred lines between private biotechnology companies and university researchers, between perceptions of serving the public interest and the profit imperatives of private enterprise, and between research and commercialization.

In recent decades, the US Congress has enacted policies that allow controversial patents (such as those on gene sequences and human tissues), and that encourage closer university-corporate relations. These policies have led to a rapid commercialization of biology and medicine, and to a significant number of university-based researchers with financial ties to private companies. Such arrangements allow them to maintain the appearance of serving the public interest while pursuing careers in the private sector.

Private industry is an important player in the development of human biotechnologies. But the lack of a financially independent counterweight like the one that public universities used to provide makes effective oversight and responsible regulation imperative. Given the impact of the biotech industry on public debate, public policy, and all of our lives, its interests must be transparent.



[UK] Calls for IVF laws to be changed to take advantage of gene editing technique by Steve ConnorThe IndependentSeptember 2nd, 2015UK medical research funders issue joint statement "human genome-editing research should proceed," want to push ahead with CRISPR/Cas gene editing in human embyros.
Seoul Sets Advisory Limit on IVF Embryo Transfer[South Korea]by Claire LeeThe Korea HeraldSeptember 2nd, 2015South Koreaís Health Ministry is revising its guidelines for IVF, discouraging medical professionals from transferring more than three embryos in a single procedure.
State agency forming big stem-cell bank to help find curesby Kevin SchultzSan Francisco ChronicleSeptember 1st, 2015Backed by $32.3M from CIRM, CA's $3B stem cell agency opens world's largest publicly available stem cell bank offering 300 different induced pluripotent stem cell lines.
IVF Availability Linked to Motherhood Delay[UK]by Arit UdohBioNewsSeptember 1st, 2015Study of Israel ART policies finds increased access to affordable IVF encouraged young women to marry later and pursue increased levels of education.
Personal Responsibilityby EditorialNatureSeptember 1st, 2015The US Precision Medicine Initiative needs to tread carefully when revealing health and genetic data to participants.
Australian Families in Limbo as Nepal Joins India and Thailand in Banning Commercial Surrogacy [Australia]by Lauren WilsonNews.com.auSeptember 1st, 2015The Supreme Court of Nepal issued an interim ceasing commercial surrogacy services; meanwhile, 60-80 Australian couples currently have Nepalese surrogates pregnant with their children.
Debate Ensues as Prenatal Tests Reach Beyond Down Syndromeby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewAugust 31st, 2015Doctors and genetic counselors question the expanding scope of blood tests during pregnancy.
How We Should Rethink the Role of Technical Expertise in GMO Regulation[India]by Dhvani Mehta and Yashaswini MittalThe WireAugust 31st, 2015The regulation of GMOs represents a good opportunity to rethink the role of public participation and non-technical knowledge in environmental regulatory discourse in general.
Freezing Eggs May Reduce A Woman's Odds Of Success With IVFby Robin Marantz HenigNPRAugust 28th, 2015With egg freezing being touted as a way for women to potentially expand future childbearing options, the viability of those eggs when they're defrosted is still relatively unknown.
China Announces Stem-Cell Rulesby David CyranoskiNature NewsAugust 26th, 2015China issues new measures for stem-cell research, but it is uncertain whether these rules will fare better than prior regulations in curtailing misuses.
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