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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.



The Collapse of a Dangerous Analogy: Or, why mitochondria are much more than batteries by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 29th, 2014Amid a flood of new evidence that mitochondria impact an individual’s traits, the editors at New Scientist have made a “U-turn” on “three-parent babies.” Their new conclusion: “It’s more messy than we thought.”
US Doctors Update Gamete Donation Guidelinesby Michael CookBioEdgeSeptember 28th, 2014The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has updated its guidelines for gamete donation in the light of the growing recognition that offspring may have a right to know their genetic parents.
An End to Sterilization Abuses in California Prisonsby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 26th, 2014The signing of SB 1135 into California law by Gov. Jerry Brown is an important victory in the fight for the remembrance of our state's eugenic history and its ongoing implications.
White House Issues New Regulations for Dangerous Biological Researchby Donald G. McNeilThe New York TimesSeptember 24th, 2014The Obama administration issued new guidelines intended to strengthen the oversight of federally funded biology research that could inadvertently produce bioweapons.
Genetic Testing for All Women? Not a Solution to the Breast Cancer Epidemicby  Karuna JaggarThe Huffington PostSeptember 24th, 2014The recommendation that all women over age 30 be screened for BRCA mutations fails to recognize the significant limitations and harms of mass genetic testing in the current health care environment.
FBI Plans Rapid DNA Dragnetby Aliya SternsteinNextgovSeptember 23rd, 2014The FBI is preparing to accelerate the collection of DNA profiles for the government's massive new biometric identification database.
The Story of 10 Couples Who Fought Costa Rica’s Ban on in Vitro Fertilizationby Johanna TorresThe Costarican Times [Costa Rica]September 21st, 2014A new documentary tells the story of ten couples in Costa Rica who sued their government after it banned IVF.
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.
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?
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