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About Biopolitics, Parties, Pundits & Human Biotechnology

Policy decisions about human biotechnologies have typically been debated among elite commissions and experts. But controversy is increasingly spilling over into mainstream news media and political debates.

This trend has been most notable in the United States, with the emergence of human embryonic stem cell research as a political issue. Stem cell debates at the policy level have made this discussion far more visible to the public.

The Bush Administration's restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research elevated the issue to the front pages of newspapers. Shortly after its announcement in 2001, partisan battle lines were drawn in ways that mirror the abortion rights divide.

Republicans hoped that opposition to research that destroys embryos would increase support among their party's religious conservative base. Democrats countered by assembling a coalition of patient advocates, biomedical researchers, and biotechnology entrepreneurs and appealed to moderate swing voters and Republicans who they believed would be swayed by promises of cures.

There were some notable exceptions to this partisan line-up. Some conservatives support embryonic stem cell research; some liberals and progressives who support the research in principle criticize aspects of its conduct and regulation. Unfortunately, the polarized debate has frequently distorted facts while obscuring a range of important social issues unrelated to the moral status of embryos.

Feminists, get ready: pregnancy and abortion are about to be disruptedby Eleanor RobertsonThe GuardianOctober 12th, 2015With news of clinical trial for uterine transplants coming soon, the ability for reproductive technologies to traverse the biological limitations of unassisted pregnancy could reshape our understandings of family, employment, and bodily autonomy.
Video Review: Talking Biopolitics[cites CGS and CGS fellow Lisa Ikemoto]by Rebecca DimondBioNewsOctober 12th, 2015BioNews reviews an episode of the Center for Genetics and Society's interview series Talking Biopolitics with George Annas and Lisa Ikemoto on genomic medicine and genetic testing.
What's Missing From Ontario's IVF Policy?by Vanessa GrubenOttawa CitizenOctober 11th, 2015The Canadian province should adopt an explicit policy collecting anonymized data on IVF use, success rates, and complications, and also addressing the information needs of children conceived via donor gametes.
Sky-high price of new stem cell therapies is a growing concernby Michael HiltzikLos Angeles TimesOctober 9th, 2015Biotech companies have launched late-stage clinical trials that could lead to federal approval of two marketable treatments backed by CIRM, California's $6-billion state stem cell program, but drug pricing could be a huge roadblock for patient access and benefit.
Genes can’t be patented, rules Australia’s High Courtby Michael SlezakNew ScientistOctober 7th, 2015In what is considered a stronger decision than in US, Myriad's patent application for BRCA1 is denied in Australia because genes and mutations are "not 'made' by human action."
DNA At the Fringes: Twins, Chimerism, and Synthetic DNAby Erin E. MurphyThe Daily BeastOctober 7th, 2015DNA tests are thought to be conclusive proof—of crime, of family relation—but our genetic material acts in mysterious ways, and chimerism may “undermine the very basis of the forensic DNA system.”
UNESCO Calls for More Regulations on Genome Editing, DTC Genetic Testingby StaffGenomeWebOctober 6th, 2015The organization's International Bioethics Committee released a report recommending a moratorium on genome editing the human germline.
Designer babies crawl closerby Laurie ZolothCosmos MagazineOctober 5th, 2015Are humans mature enough to engineer human embryos? Embryo engineering has been rejected by every ethics committee that has ever considered it.
CRISPR-Cpf1: Hype by Association by Elliot HosmanOctober 2nd, 2015Amid Nobel Prize predictions for CRISPR-Cas9 research, a new CRISPR associated protein takes the media and science community by storm, even as its utility remains unclear.
Ontario to Cover In-Vitro Fertilization Treatments[Canada]by Rob FergusonThe StarOctober 1st, 2015Health Minister Eric Hoskins’ announcement Thursday makes Ontario the second province to cover costly programs for what is increasingly seen as an important medical issue.
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