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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.



Racial Health Disparities: It’s Inequality, Not Genesby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 23rd, 2015A review of genomic research on racial health disparities in heart disease finds it has made “little or no contribution to our understanding.” A new article in The Atlantic puts that in social, political, and historical context.
Editing Human Embryos: So This Happenedby Carl ZimmerNational GeographicApril 22nd, 2015A quick guide to the history behind this research, what the Chinese scientists did, and what it may signify.
Chinese Scientists Genetically Modify Human Embryosby David Cyranoski & Sara ReardonNature NewsApril 22nd, 2015Rumours of germline modification prove true — and look set to reignite an ethical debate.
Public interest group calls for strengthening global policies against human germline modification[Press statement]April 22nd, 2015“No researcher has the moral warrant to flout the globally widespread policy agreement against altering the human germline.”
Commercial Surrogacy Should be Legalised, Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant Saysby Bridget BrennanABC [Australia]April 17th, 2015Two disturbing cases of child abandonment in India and Thailand should force the Federal Government to act.
California Unveils 'Precision-Medicine' Projectby Erika Check HaydenNature NewsApril 14th, 2015The $3-million state initiative will coordinate with a national effort to promote individualized patient treatment.
Genome Editing: Time to Ask the Tough Questionsby Silvia CamporesiThe Huffington PostApril 14th, 2015It is a bit disheartening that we seem not to have made any progress when it comes to governing science in 40 years, and that we refer to Asilomar as the exemplar of practice of governing science.
Prenatal Testing, Cancer Risk and the Overdiagnosis Dilemmaby Ainsley Newson and Stacy CarterBioNewsApril 13th, 2015Should we be reporting results if we don’t know whether those results have any potential to benefit the patient?
The Conflict Between Human Rights And Biotechnological Evolutionby Srinivas RamanEurasia ReviewApril 11th, 2015Genetically modifying humans has the potential to violate human rights and freedom and could possibly lead to catastrophic consequences for the human race if legalized and encouraged.
Calling for “More than a Moratorium” on Human Germline Modificationby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2015A broader array of critical responses and policy suggestions follows recent reports that the gene-editing technique CRISPR has been used to genetically modify human sperm, eggs or embryos.
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