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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.



‘Three-parent baby’ claim raises hopes — and ethical concernby Sara ReardonNature NewsSeptember 28th, 2016Questions surround a rogue doctor's report of a baby created using controversial nuclear transfer technique, including future health risks.
Controversy Erupts Around Baby With Three Biological Parents[citing CGS]by Emily WillinghamForbesSeptember 28th, 2016A US fertility doctor travels to Mexico where "there are no rules" to use mitochondrial manipulation to produce a live birth.
As Kuwait imposes world’s first DNA collection law, attorney tries to fight itby Cyrus FarivarARS TechnicaSeptember 22nd, 2016“Compelling every citizen, resident, and visitor to submit a DNA sample to the government is similar to forcing house searches without a warrant."
Monsanto Licenses CRISPR Technology to Modify Crops — with Key Restrictionsby Sharon BegleySTATSeptember 22nd, 2016Broad Institute issues a CRISPR license to Monsanto, restricting any uses in gene drive, "terminator seeds" or tobacco R&D.
Breaking Taboo, Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Rob SteinNPRSeptember 22nd, 2016CRISPR gene editing human embryos is a step toward attempts at producing genetically modified humans. It's not a technology to be taken lightly.
Titanic Clash Over CRISPR Patents Turns Uglyby Heidi LedfordNature September 21st, 2016Parties aggressively wage a billion-dollar patent battle meanwhile licensing their disputed rights to large drug companies aiming for clinical trials.
Stem Cell Advocates and Critics Push Back on FDA Guidelinesby Alexandra OssolaScientific AmericanSeptember 21st, 2016At a public hearing on how strictly therapies should be regulated, testimony noted the number of unscrupulous clinics preying on desperate patients with unsubstantiated claims.
Cut-Throat Academia Leads to 'Natural Selection of Bad Science', Claims Studyby Hannah DevlinThe GuardianSeptember 20th, 2016Under pressures of funding and attracting "progeny," many scientists publish surprising yet unreliable findings. Shortcomings include small sample sizes and false positives.
Patients Turn To San Diego Stem Cell Companies For Costly, Unproven Treatmentsby David WagnerKPBSSeptember 20th, 2016An investigation reveals a US stem cell company is referring patients to Mexico for non-FDA approved therapies that may be causing harm.
White House science advisers urge Justice Dept., judges to raise forensic standardsby Spencer S. HsuWashington PostSeptember 20th, 2016A new report cautions that widely used methods to trace complex DNA samples to criminal defendants fall short of scientific standards.
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