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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.



23andMe’s Dangerous Business Modelby Marcy DarnovskyThe New York TimesMarch 2nd, 2015Handing over reams of our genetic, health and personal information to companies like 23andMe – and paying them for the privilege – isn’t the best way to do that. And it’s far from the only path to scientific advance.
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.
Egg-Freeze Unadvised, Panel SaysJapan TimesFebruary 26th, 2015A panel under the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology will not recommend that young and healthy women preserve their frozen eggs for future pregnancy, citing the health risks and relatively low pregnancy rate.
'Manufactured' Babies of Same-Sex Parents May Soon Be Reality[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Beth GreenfieldYahoo ParentingFebruary 26th, 2015News of another fertility breakthrough has been getting attention this week, with some saying it will allow same-sex couples to “manufacture” biological babies using embryonic stem cells.
Building a Face, and a Case, on DNAby Andrew PollackThe New York TimesFebruary 23rd, 2015Rather than an artist’s rendering based on witness descriptions, the face was generated by a computer relying solely on DNA found at the scene of the crime.
The Truth about Mitochondrial Replacementby Françoise BaylisImpact EthicsFebruary 23rd, 2015Arguments against the popular descriptions of mitochondrial replacement as much needed treatment to avoid the birth of children ‘born to suffer’.
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.
Your DNA is Everywhere. Can the Police Analyze it?by David KravetsArs TechnicaFebruary 20th, 2015A human sheds as much as 100 pounds of DNA-containing material in a lifetime and about 30,000 skin cells an hour. But who owns that DNA is the latest modern-day privacy issue before the US Supreme Court.
Human DNA Enlarges Mouse Brainsby Elizabeth PennisiScienceFebruary 19th, 2015Researchers have increased the size of mouse brains by giving the rodents a piece of human DNA that controls gene activity. The work provides some evidence for how the human intellect surpassed those of other apes.
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