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About Environmentalism & Human Biotechnology


Environmentalists bring to the politics of human biotechnologies their long experience of the need for caution in the face of powerful new technologies, and for responsible social governance of technological innovation.

Environmentalists pioneered the precautionary principle, which counsels that the foreseeable consequences of new technologies should be evaluated in advance of their development and use, and that the burden of demonstrating their safety lies with their advocates and beneficiaries. Environmentalists also draw attention to the need for government to regulate markets in order to ensure public health and well-being.

Environmentalists' appreciation for appropriate technology and understanding that technical fixes are often inappropriate for social problems also hold important insights for evaluating human biotechnologies. Which biomedical, reproductive, and genetic applications of are worthy of support when measured against the principles of social justice, the common good, and the public interest? Which should we forgo? Which pose novel moral and political risks that require careful oversight and regulation?



Trump, Science and Social Justiceby Pete ShanksDecember 8th, 2016President-elect Trump's appointments, so far, are frightening to anyone who cares about science, or social, economic and environmental justice.
Obama’s Science Advisors Are Worried About Future CRISPR Terrorismby Daniel OberhausVICE MotherboardNovember 21st, 2016PCAST warn that under current legislation, there is no room for rapid response to threats and misuse, recommending improved biosurveillance as a solution.
The Sudden, Inevitable Rewiring of the American Leftby Andrew BurmonInverseNovember 18th, 2016It's not clear which direction the Trump administration will be pushed by conservative evangelicals like Mike Pence and technophile wildcards like Peter Thiel.
Seeding Doubt: How Self-Appointed Guardians of “Sound Science” Tip the Scales Toward Industryby Liza GrossThe InterceptNovember 15th, 2016Sense About Science has downplayed concerns about industry-funded research and promoted science that favors private interests over public health.
Are Altered Mosquitoes a Public Health Project, or a Business?by Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewOctober 27th, 2016The fight against dengue and Zika in Latin America is turning into a contest between mosquito-altering technologies, and between profits and public health.
Don’t Miss This: The Story of CRISPR Told in a Comicby Kayla TolentinoOctober 6th, 2016Illustrator Andy Warner helps to break down the complexities of the still unraveling CRISPR gene editing story in his recent piece "Bad Blood."
Monsanto Licenses CRISPR Technology to Modify Crops — with Key Restrictionsby Sharon BegleySTATSeptember 22nd, 2016The Broad Institute has issued a CRISPR license to Monsanto, restricting any uses for gene drive, "terminator seeds," or tobacco R&D.
When Evolution Fights Back Against Genetic Engineeringby Brooke BorelThe AtlanticSeptember 12th, 2016Gene drive technology raises intense ethical and practical concerns, not only from critics but from the very scientists who are working with it.
The Perils of Planned Extinctionsby Claire Hope CummingsProject SyndicateSeptember 6th, 2016Instead of taking time to fully consider the ethical, ecological, and social issues of gene-drive technology, many are aggressively promoting its use in conservation.
Accessible Synthetic Biology Raises New Concerns for DIY Biological Warfareby Joseph NeighborVICE MotherboardAugust 23rd, 2016The monopoly on biology once held by governments and universities has been broken, posing significant challenges for the international community.
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