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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.



California Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Inmate Sterilizationsby Sharon BernsteinReutersAugust 19th, 2014California lawmakers sent a bill to ban sterilization surgeries on inmates in California prisons to Governor Jerry Brown.
Misconceptionby Sarah DingleThe Sydney Morning HeraldAugust 16th, 2014The discovery in her late 20s that she was conceived using a sperm donor was a huge shock to Sarah Dingle. But learning there was no possibility of finding out the name of her biological father was even more disturbing.
Australia Could Recognise Multiple Parentsby Michael CookBioEdgeAugust 16th, 2014Adoption and new reproduction technologies are placing new strains on what “parent” means in contemporary society. If recommendations in a major report are accepted, Australian law could be revised to allow more than two.
Society: Don't Blame the Mothersby Sarah S. Richardson, Cynthia R. Daniels, Matthew W. Gillman, Janet Golden, Rebecca Kukla, Christopher Kuzawa & Janet Rich-EdwardsNature CommentAugust 13th, 2014There is a long history of society blaming mothers for the ill health of their children. The latest wave in this discussion flows from studies of epigenetics.
Thailand to Ban Commercial Surrogacy in Wake of Gammy ScandalThe GuardianAugust 13th, 2014Military government approve draft law that will effectively stop foreign couples paying for pregnancies in the country.
Questions Raised Over DNA Evidence to Secure Murder Convictionsby Candice MarcusABCAugust 13th, 2014A High Court ruling that DNA evidence was not enough to convict a man of murder could have wider implications on DNA convictions across Australia.
Should we Open the Door to Genetically Modified Babies?by Jessica CussinsCNBCAugust 11th, 2014There has been a lot of confusion around this controversial issue, but as we are now facing a historic crossroads, it is important to set the record straight.
Tuskegee Todayby Jessica CussinsThe Huffington PostAugust 8th, 2014Last week marked the 42nd anniversary of the Tuskegee syphilis study and many people took the opportunity to examine its relevance to the treatment of human research subjects today.
Geneticists Say Popular Book Misrepresents Research on Human Evolutionby Ewen CallawayNature News BlogAugust 8th, 2014More than 130 leading population geneticists have condemned a book arguing that genetic variation between human populations could underlie global economic, political and social differences.
Will my Disabled Daughter have a Place in this Genetic Wonderland?by Ian BirrellThe GuardianAugust 7th, 2014Until society gets to grips with prejudice we cannot start to grapple with the profound questions that medical advances raise.
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