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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.



BREAKING THE WALL BETWEEN GENE SCIENCE AND ETHICS. How Philosophy Can Provide Frameworks for a Global Biotech Revolutionby Françoise BaylisFalling WallsDecember 2nd, 2016At Falling Walls, Françoise reflects on the immense opportunities and threats posed by next-generation biotechnologies and provides clues on how we, as a species, should deal with them.
Deaths in CAR-T Immune-Therapy Trials Haunt Promising New Cancer Treatmentby Emily MullinMIT Technology ReviewDecember 1st, 2016Companies are racing to develop a new type of cancer therapy, but scientists are still assessing its safety.
How Will Trump Use Science to Further His Political Agenda?by Sarah ZhangThe AtlanticDecember 1st, 2016We have a president-elect who appears to believe in his genetic superiority, with a chief strategist who has been reported to believe the same.
Setting the record straightby Martin H. JohnsonReproductive BioMedicine OnlineDecember 1st, 2016A senior editor writes about some shoddy scientific journalism on mitochondrial transfer that was published in his own journal.
UK doctors to seek permission to create baby with DNA from three people by Ian SampleThe GuardianNovember 30th, 2016Specialists poised to offer mitochondrial replacement therapy if government’s fertility regulator approves the treatment
"3-Parent Baby" Procedure Faces New Hurdleby Karen WeintraubScientific AmericanNovember 30th, 2016Mitochondrial disease can somehow creep back in, even if a mother’s mitochondria are virtually eliminated in an attempt to block inherited illnesses.
Human Gene Editing: A Timeline of CRISPR Cover StoriesWith recent gene editing tools, a number of high-profile media are featuring CRISPR on their covers and front pages. We gather highlights since early 2015, along with opinion polls, TV shows, and editorial board statements.
Steve Bannon’s disturbing views on ‘genetic superiority’ are shared by Trumpby Laurel RaymondThink ProgressNovember 28th, 2016Former Breitbart head Steve Bannon has been a national lightning rod ever since he was appointed CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
What’s behind those billion-dollar biotech deals? Often, a whole lot of hypeby Damian GardeSTATNovember 28th, 2016Huge deals are measured in "biobucks" — akin to lottery tickets that pay out if and when an experimental drug hits various milestones along the path to commercialization.
'No solid evidence' for IVF add-on successby Deborah CohenBBC PanoramaNovember 28th, 2016A year-long study finds that nearly all costly add-on treatments offered by UK fertility clinics are unreliable, misleading, and risky.
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