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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.



Blood Money: Is it Wrong to Pay Donors?by Judith HarveyThe GuardianJanuary 25th, 2015In some countries, people get paid for giving blood. And in the UK, one has to buy in plasma. But is safety compromised when money changes hands?
Obama to Request Research Funding for Treatments Tailored to Patients’ DNAby Robert PearThe New York TimesJanuary 24th, 2015President Obama will seek hundreds of millions of dollars for a new initiative to develop medical treatments tailored to genetic and other characteristics of individual patients.
Key Questions About the Social and Ethical Implications of Nuclear Genome Transfer or “3-Person IVF” Techniquesby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2015As the Institute of Medicine launches an official assessment over the next year, here are eight questions to consider.
Institute of Medicine to Study the Social Policy and Ethics of “3-Person IVF”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2015The FDA held a public meeting last year to assess the safety and efficacy of nuclear genome transfer for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial diseases. Now it has asked the Institute of Medicine to consider the social and ethical issues.
UK May Be Poised for “Historic Mistake” on “3-Person IVF”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2015A Parliamentary vote is expected as soon as February.
US Precision-Medicine Proposal Sparks Questionsby Sara ReardonNatureJanuary 22nd, 2015President Obama announced a "Precision Medicine Initiative" in his State of the Union address, but the White House is remaining tight-lipped about the details.
'Designer Babies' Debate Should Start, Scientists Sayby James GallagherBBC NewsJanuary 18th, 2015New gene editing techniques make "designer babies" more feasible, but that does not mean it's inevitably the way we have to go as a society.
Three-Parent Baby Pioneer Jamie Grifo: ‘The Brits Will be Ahead of the World’by Steve ConnorThe IndependentJanuary 16th, 2015A fertility doctor insists his "three-parent embryo" technique is safe, even though the woman who became pregnant with twins using it lost both babies.
AI Has Arrived, and That Really Worries the World’s Brightest Mindsby Robert McMillanWiredJanuary 16th, 2015Artificial intelligence experts and other scientists warn that the "intelligence explosion" could spell doom for the human race.
Error or Terror: Controlling Emerging Technologyby John DrzikCNBCJanuary 15th, 2015We need to encourage innovation, but also set a course for rigorous risk governance of emerging technologies. It is much better to confront difficult issues now than endure disastrous consequences later.
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