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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.



Weighing the Scales on Genetic Informationby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 15th, 2014More people are choosing not to know what’s in their genome and more people are sharing the complexities and challenges of knowing. How can their choices and experiences inform policy?
The Baby Makers: Critics Push for Regulation of India's Booming Surrogacy IndustryABCApril 15th, 2014As more than 800 million Indians go to the polls this month, the main political party candidates are being urged to finally push through legislation to regulate the country's booming commercial surrogacy industry.
Human Rights Body Warns Over Mass DNA Screeningby Elaine EdwardsThe Irish TimesApril 11th, 2014A Government proposal which would allow the taking of DNA samples for “mass screening” of certain “classes” of individuals should be prohibited, Ireland's national human rights watchdog has said.
Stocking the Genetic Supermarket: Reproductive Genetic Technologies and Collective Action Problemsby Chris Gyngell and Thomas DouglasWiley Online LibraryApril 10th, 2014Reproductive genetic technologies targeting non-medical traits could lead to collective action problems. Does this risk justify state intervention in the genetic supermarket?
DNA Dreamsby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2014The documentary film that explores the inner workings of BGI Shenzhen, “the world’s largest genomics organization,” is now available in full on YouTube.
Fearing Punishment for Bad Genesby Kira PeikoffThe New York TimesApril 7th, 2014People are avoiding genetic testing because of a major omission in the 2008 federal law that bars employers and health insurers from seeking the results of the tests.
Stress Alters Children's Genomesby Jyoti MadhusoodananNatureApril 7th, 2014Growing up in a stressful social environment leaves lasting marks on young chromosomes, a study of African American boys has revealed.
Stop Calling Science a ‘Frontier’ by Leah CeccarelliThe Seattle TimesApril 6th, 2014The notion of a special relationship between Americans and a metaphorical “frontier of science” is troubling because of the historical baggage it subtly imprints on its listeners.
Genetic Inheritance: How Much do you Want to Know?by Stuart JeffriesThe GuardianApril 4th, 2014Scientist Sharon Moalem says we will soon be able to alter our children's lives with genetic manipulation – would you do it if you could?
DARPA Carves Out New Division to Entice Biotech Talentby Kelly ServickScienceApril 3rd, 2014The US Department of Defense is making a concerted grasp at biotechnology. DARPA will consolidate biology research scattered across its existing divisions and possibly expand the arsenal of projects.
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