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About Human Rights & Human Biotechnology

Claims to universal human rights depend, in part, on formal recognition of our common humanity. Many countries use human rights as a broad framework to think about regulatory options for human biotechnologies. International declarations also commonly use this framework. Examples include the Council of Europe's Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine and UNESCO's Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights.

The Convention on Biomedicine and Human Rights, like a number of other international agreements and declarations, rejects biotechnology applications that would alter the genomes of future generations. Manipulating genes in a manner that encodes inequality into our genes could easily unravel centuries of progress toward respecting human worth.

UNESCO Calls for More Regulations on Genome Editing, DTC Genetic Testingby StaffGenomeWebOctober 6th, 2015The organization's International Bioethics Committee released a report recommending a moratorium on genome editing the human germline.
DARPA Gives MIT Lab $32 Million to Program Living Cellsby Alexandra OssolaPopular ScienceSeptember 29th, 2015Synthetic biology lab the Broad Institute Foundry announced a new defense contract to join computer scientists and companies in "chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, energy, agriculture, and biotechnology," but the work remains vague.
Who has your DNA—or wants itby Jocelyn KaiserScienceSeptember 25th, 2015More and more groups are amassing computer server–busting amounts of human DNA. Science's informal survey found at least 17 biobanks that hold—or plan to hold—genomic data on 75,000 or more people.
Forgotten Stories of the Eugenic Age #4, Part 1: The Short Life and Eugenic Death of Baby John Bollingerby Natalie OveyssiBiopolitical TimesSeptember 24th, 2015In 1915, Dr. Harry Haiselden refused to operate to save the life of John Bollinger, a baby with disabilities, whom he believed would be a burden on society.
The Life of a Professional Guinea Pigby Cari RommThe AtlanticSeptember 23rd, 2015Phase 1 trials are almost always where the money is. Is paying vulnerable populations to participate in dangerous drug studies the equivalent of coercion?
Prosecutor backs expanded DNA testingby Evan AllenBoston GlobeSeptember 17th, 2015A new Massachusetts bill would allow police officers to obtain genetic material at the point of felony arrest — creating what Justice Scalia calls the "genetic panopticon."
Fast Forward-Pause-Stop: The 3-Speed Human Germline Debateby Lisa C. Ikemoto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorSeptember 10th, 2015CRISPR’s rapid uptake has spurred proposals from moratoria to get-out-of-the-way optimism, but ad hoc responses aren’t enough when there is so much at stake.
Political Notes: CA bill protecting same-sex parents advancesby Matthew S. BajkoBay Area ReporterAugust 27th, 2015Gay, lesbian and unmarried couples who use assisted reproduction and third party gametes would be recognized as parents from the moment their child is born.
Nepal Bans Surrogate Births — Worry for Gay Israelisby JTAThe ForwardAugust 27th, 2015Many gay Israelis now travel to Nepal for surrogacy because Israel bans surrogate pregnancies for same-sex couples.
The Colonial Origins of Conservation: The Disturbing History Behind US National Parksby Stephen CorryTruthoutAugust 25th, 2015Environmental conservation that excludes tribal peoples has deep connections with historical eugenics.
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