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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.



Gene Mapping May Not Be for Everyoneby Karen WeintraubUSA TodayAugust 22nd, 2016George Church wants everyone to have their full genome sequenced, but many say we don't know enough about genetics to justify it.
Staying Ahead of Technology’s Curvesby Doug HillBoston GlobeAugust 21st, 2016Embracing new technologies with extraordinary disruptive powers without trying to anticipate and prepare for their potential consequences is now, more than ever, a bad idea.
These New Stem Cell Treatments Are Expensive — and Unprovenby Michael HiltzikLos Angeles TimesAugust 19th, 2016"Stem cells have become a medical buzzword," Paul Knoepfler notes. "I see a lot of businesses using direct marketing to patients to take advantage of that."
Hacking life: Scientists ‘recode’ DNA in step toward lab-made organismsby Sharon BegleySTATAugust 18th, 2016Recoded organisms could have talents evolution hasn’t yet created. For instance, they could make proteins that do not exist in nature, including drugs.
In CRISPR Fight, Co-Inventor Says Broad Institute Misled Patent Officeby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewIs an email between competing researchers a smoking gun in the billion dollar battle over patent rights for gene editing?
ExAC Project Pins Down Rare Gene VariantsNature EditorialAugust 17th, 2016A new study found only 9 of 192 variants were actually linked to pathogenic disease despite ongoing use in diagnosis and treatment.
In the Fight for Our Genes, Could We Lose What Makes Us Human?by Ziyaad BhoratopenDemocracyAugust 17th, 2016The rapid commercialization of genetics threatens human dignity as our biology is exposed to society's political economy.
What happens when anyone can edit genes at home? We’re about to find outby Dyllan FurnessDigital TrendsAugust 15th, 2016Scientists express concern about the unintentional consequences of gene editing starter kits proliferating in biohacking communities.
Illumina Would Like You to Sequence More DNA, Pleaseby Sarah ZhangWIREDAugust 15th, 2016The leader of the DNA sequencing market has a start-up accelerator program to find new applications for its technology.
Public policy must address technology’s impact[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by John M. HeinThe Sacramento BeeAugust 13th, 2016“We need to develop habits of mind, or habits of social interaction, that will allow for some very robust public participation on the use of these powerful technologies,” says Marcy Darnovsky.
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