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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.



STAT-Harvard poll: Americans say no to ‘designer babies’by Sharon BegleySTATFebruary 11th, 201665% think altering “the genes of unborn babies” to reduce the risk of certain serious diseases should be illegal, and 83% said doing so to improve “intelligence or physical characteristics” should be illegal.
Race, Genetics, Societyby Elliot HosmanFebruary 11th, 2016We highlight recent research by CGS Advisory Board member Dorothy Roberts, a CGS position opening, and our recent news and resources on race and genetics.
Sure Genomics wants to sell private genetic profiles for $2,500, but it’s really testing the FDAby Arielle Duhaime-RossThe VergeFebruary 9th, 2016From a regulatory standpoint, Sure Genomics is treading on thin ice. The FDA has warned other companies about similar practices.
We Are This Close to "Designer Babies"[cites CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Nina Liss-SchultzMother JonesFebruary 8th, 2016Issues to consider in light of the UK's approval of using CRISPR gene editing on human embryos for research.
We need to talk about egg freezingby Eva WisemanThe GuardianFebruary 7th, 2016It’s expensive, frustrating and can be traumatic. As more and more women make the choice to freeze their eggs, do they know exactly what they’re getting into?
The billion-dollar CRISPR patent battle: A case of big money shaping scienceby Michael HiltzikLos Angeles TimesFebruary 5th, 2016"The real question is whether the future of the technology will be guided by the need to learn more, or the opportunity to earn more."
Taking race out of human geneticsby Michael Yudell, Dorothy Roberts, Rob DeSalle & Sarah TishkoffScienceFebruary 5th, 2016"We believe the use of biological concepts of race in human genetic research—so disputed and so mired in confusion—is problematic at best and harmful at worst. It is time for biologists to find a better way."
A Cautious Approach to Mitochondrial Replacementby Françoise BaylisImpact EthicsFebruary 3rd, 2016While the motivation with mitochondrial replacement (MRT) is distinct from cloning, the transfer technology is the same. MRT can legitimately be seen as a “quiet way station” in which to refine the techniques essential for other genetic interventions (including cloning).
Pentagon to Offer Plan to Store Eggs and Sperm to Retain Young Troopsby Michael S. SchmidtThe New York TimesFebruary 3rd, 2016A pilot program will pay for troops to have their gametes frozen, in an effort to make military service more appealing and family friendly.
Center for Genetics and Society Comments on Just-Released Report on Germline Mitochondrial Manipulations[Press statement]February 3rd, 2016The National Academy of Medicine's report conclusion – that no ethical or policy considerations stand in the way of clinical investigations going forward – seems at odds with the many cautions, risks, and concerns that it raises.
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