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About the Biotech & Pharma Industries & Human Biotechnology


The fast-growing biotech industry is playing a dominant role in shaping the development, marketing and use of human biotechnologies. Like the pharmaceutical industry, it profits by developing products aimed at treating disease and restoring health. Although some biotech products and activities are socially and ethically controversial, the industry as a whole tends to oppose public oversight and regulation.

This situation is complicated by increasingly blurred lines between private biotechnology companies and university researchers, between perceptions of serving the public interest and the profit imperatives of private enterprise, and between research and commercialization.

In recent decades, the US Congress has enacted policies that allow controversial patents (such as those on gene sequences and human tissues), and that encourage closer university-corporate relations. These policies have led to a rapid commercialization of biology and medicine, and to a significant number of university-based researchers with financial ties to private companies. Such arrangements allow them to maintain the appearance of serving the public interest while pursuing careers in the private sector.

Private industry is an important player in the development of human biotechnologies. But the lack of a financially independent counterweight like the one that public universities used to provide makes effective oversight and responsible regulation imperative. Given the impact of the biotech industry on public debate, public policy, and all of our lives, its interests must be transparent.



European Court Opens Door for Stem Cell PatentingGenetic Engineering & Biotechnology NewsDecember 18th, 2014The European Court of Justice ruled that human embryonic stem cell patents could be allowed if organisms can't develop into human being.
Top Biopolitical Times Posts of 2014by Jessica Cussins & Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2014In 2014, CGS staffers and contributors posted 107 blogs in Biopolitical Times. These are 12 of our favorites.
Geneticists Begin Tests of an Internet for DNAby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewDecember 17th, 2014Scientists are starting to open their DNA databases online, creating a network that could pave the way for gene analysis at a new scale.
Myriad Loses Appeals Court Bid to Block Breast Cancer Testsby Susan DeckerBloomberg BusinessweekDecember 17th, 2014Myriad Genetics Inc. canít block competitorsí DNA tests to determine risk for breast and ovarian cancer after a U.S. appeals court said three patents on the tests never should have been issued.
Prenatal Tests: Oversold and Misunderstoodby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorDecember 16th, 2014A scathing investigative report on the accuracy of noninvasive prenatal testing is likely to shift the terms of this important conversation.
Genetic Discrimination Means the Choice Between Life and Life Insuranceby Shimon Koffler Fogel and Bev Heim-MyersHuffington Post [Canada]December 12th, 2014Unfortunately, Canadians across the country currently face real as well as potential future discrimination based on their DNA.
Have New Prenatal Tests Been Dangerously Oversold?by Beth DaleyNew England Center for Investigative ReportingDecember 12th, 2014Many prenatal testing companies promise more than they can deliver. Two studies show that results can be a false alarm half of the time.
California Launches $50 Million, Fast-Track Stem Cell Driveby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportDecember 11th, 2014The California stem cell agency approved a plan that will radically reshape its efforts to produce a widely available stem cell treatment, a goal it has not yet reached after 10 years of trying.
CRISPR Opportunities ... For What? And for Whom?by Pete ShanksHuffington PostDecember 10th, 2014Money and deals are flowing into companies that promise to edit genes. Human, animal, plant, all kinds of DNA may be on the cutting board.
Stem Cells: The Black Box of Reprogrammingby David CyranoskiNature NewsDecember 10th, 2014Scientists have been reprogramming adult cells into embryonic ones for decades ó but they are only now getting to grips with the mechanics.
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