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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.



Genes Are Overratedby Nathaniel ComfortThe AtlanticJune 1st, 2016The discovery of DNA wasn’t predestined, nor does it dictate our destiny—and current ideas about it may die.
Will Modern Genetics Turn Us Into Gene “Genies”?by Marcy Darnovsky, Dan Sarewitz, Samuel Weiss Evans, Arvis Sulovari, Eric A. WidraZócalo Public SquareMay 24th, 2016Contributors discuss their stances on the dangers and potential benefits of gene manipulation.
Bayer Offers to Buy Monsanto for $62 Billionby Michael J. de la Merced & Chad BrayThe New York TimesMay 23rd, 2016The merger would increase Bayer's scale of operations, whose politics and practices are similar to those of Monsanto.
Genome games: A secret meet and a controversy[citing CGS' Pete Shanks]by Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleMay 22nd, 2016A complete lack of transparency around a gathering to discuss synthetic human genomes triggers anger worldwide.
Is Egg Freezing Only for White Women?by Reniqua AllenThe New York Times [Opinion]May 21st, 2016In addition to egg freezing's unknown risks and success rates, black women are being excluded from "fertility insurance" conversations and face stigma.
Why is Congress trying to weaken the FDA's oversight of dangerous drugs?by Michael HiltzikLos Angeles TimesMay 19th, 2016With looser standards for drug approval, the "21st Century Cures Act" would grant pharmaceutical companies greater leeway in selling their products.
Bill Banning Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Consideredby Tanya LewisThe ScientistMay 19th, 2016A US Senate committee is considering extending a ban on mitochondrial DNA transfer.
UK should freeze mitochondrial replacement as Egli paper ID’s serious problemby Paul KnoepflerThe NicheMay 19th, 2016New research showing that transfer of one egg's nucleus into another egg might also bring along diseased mitochondria has renewed calls to freeze 3-person IVF.
It's not just stem cell research that's overhyped—medical science spin is a widespread problemby Kelly CroweCBC NewsMay 18th, 2016The International Society for Stem Cell Research is urging scientists to manage public's expectations.
In Search For Cures, Scientists Create Embryos That Are Both Animal And Humanby Rob SteinNPRMay 18th, 2016Gene-editing science raises bioethical concerns.
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