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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.



MacArthur Grant Sheds Light on Reproductive Technologies[References CGS]by Elayne CliftSentinel SourceSeptember 18th, 2014Thanks to a recent MacArthur Foundation grant to the Center for Genetics and Society and Our Bodies Ourselves, the information gap surrounding surrogacy and other assisted reproductive technologies will be addressed.
Three-Parent Babies: It's More Messy Than we Thoughtby EditorialNew ScientistSeptember 18th, 2014It appears that we may have seriously underestimated the influence that mitochondria have. Recent research suggests that they play a key role in some of the most important features of human life.
Surrogates and Couples Face a Maze of Laws, State by Stateby Tamar LewinThe New York TimesSeptember 17th, 2014Surrogacy remains a polarizing and charged issue. There is nothing resembling a national consensus on how to handle it and no federal law, leaving the states free to do as they wish.
The Stupidity of the “Smart Gene”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 17th, 2014Now that “one of the largest, most rigorous genetic studies of human cognition” has effectively turned up "nothing," can we finally put the notion of “smart genes” behind us?
Risks of Twins, Triplets May Prompt IVF Patients to Opt for Singletonsby Alan ZaremboThe Los Angeles TimesSeptember 16th, 2014A new study bolsters the argument that fertility doctors should transfer just one embryo at a time when they are trying to help women give birth.
New Poll Finds Only 18% of British Adults in Support of "3-Person IVF"by Jessica CussinsBiopolitcal TimesSeptember 15th, 2014A newly released poll finds substantial public reluctance to change UK law to allow the genetic modification of future generations.
Life is Randomby Cailin O’ConnorSlateSeptember 11th, 2014Biologists now realize that “nature vs. nurture” misses the importance of noise.
New Details Emerge on Retracted STAP Papersby David CyranoskiNature News BlogSeptember 11th, 2014New leaked e-mails showing the comments of referees for Science and Nature provide more insight into the saga of the STAP papers.
Revolving Door Policy Tightened at California Stem Cell Agency by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportSeptember 10th, 2014Directors of the California stem cell agency approved a measure aimed at easing conflicts of interest involving employees who may seek employment with recipients of the agency’s largess.
Next-Generation Stem Cells Cleared for Human Trialby David CyranoskiNatureSeptember 10th, 2014A Japanese patient with a debilitating eye disease is about to become the first person to be treated with induced pluripotent stem cells.
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