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Pete Shanks's Publications

Pete Shanks, MA, attended Oxford University, where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and moved to California in the mid-1970s. He has been active in a range of local and international political movements, while mostly making his living in the publishing industry, especially on the production side; he enjoys the craft of bookmaking. Appalled by the eugenic possibilities of biotechnology, he has worked as a consultant with the Center for Genetics and Society since its earliest days. He is the author of Human Genetic Engineering: A Guide for Activists, Skeptics, and the Very Perplexed (Nation Books) and a regular contributor to Biopolitical Times.

2016 Fear vs Hope: Gene Editing— Terrible turning point?by Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleJanuary 1st, 2017As the tools for gene editing rapidly advance, we approach our best chance to prevent the rise of a modern, uncontrolled and dangerously ill-considered techno-eugenics.
Biopolitical News of 2016by Pete Shanks, Leah Lowthorp & Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 13th, 2016We highlight 2016’s trends in and top news stories about human biotech developments.
Trump, Science and Social Justiceby Pete ShanksDecember 8th, 2016President-elect Trump's appointments, so far, are frightening to anyone who cares about science, or social, economic and environmental justice.
Wrong Steps: The First One From Threeby Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleOctober 2nd, 2016Gene-editing technology is advancing rapidly. What if we come to a consensus about what should not be allowed...and then some renegade scientists, convinced that they know best, just go ahead and do it?
Presidential Candidates on Scienceby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 16th, 2016Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Jill Stein answer 20 questions about science policy.
Scandals Waiting to Happen: Institutional Conflicts of Interest at California Stem Cell Agencyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 8th, 2016StemCells Inc., which has received tens of millions of dollars from the state-funded stem cell agency, paid its president a hefty sum when he joined its board a week after resigning his position.
The Direct-to-Consumer Stem Cell Industry in the USby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 15th, 2016There are more stem-cell clinics than anyone suspected, and it’s not clear that they are operating with proper supervision.
Puffing Cryonics in New Scientist?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 13th, 2016New Scientist is a popular science magazine that sometimes prioritizes popularity over science.
Two Decades After Dollyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 12th, 201620 years after the first cloned mammal was born, the US still does not have legal prohibitions on cloned people, or on heritable human genetic modification.
The Disappointing NAS Gene Drive Reportby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2016The National Academies report on gene drive technology has not yet provoked the widespread debate it deserves.
On the 14-Day Rule and Other Limitsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 29th, 2016Speed limits are somewhat arbitrary but sensible; so is the 14-day rule for embryo research.
Genome games: A secret meet and a controversyby Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleMay 22nd, 2016A complete lack of transparency around a gathering to discuss synthetic human genomes triggers anger worldwide.
An Even Stranger Presidential Candidateby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 5th, 2016Zoltan Istvan is running for president. I mean, for vice-president. I mean, from death and aging.
Public Opposes Human Germline “Enhancement” by Overwhelming Majorityby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 5th, 2016New polls confirm that the public remains opposed to "enhancement" and is still not convinced about other proposed genetic interventions.
Cryonics Taken Apartby Pete ShanksMarch 10th, 2016Corey Pein has written an exposé of Alcor, the cryonics company he describes as "technophilic necromancers."
Scientists Make Mice Glumby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 25th, 2016Researchers investigate human genetic variant for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in transgenic mice models.
Who's Looking to Profit from Human Germline Changes?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 28th, 2016Billionaire Randal Kirk has assembled the components to commercialize heritable human genetic modification.
Why Is Editas Going Public? by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 14th, 2016Editas, the gene-editing company founded by several of the scientists who developed CRISPR technology, announced on January 4th that it had filed preliminary paperwork for a public offering of stock.
Biopolitical News of 2015by Elliot Hosman, Pete Shanks & Marcy Darnovsky, Biopolitical TimesDecember 22nd, 2015We highlight 2015’s breaking news stories about human biotech developments.
Top Biopolitical Times Posts of 2015by Elliot Hosman, Pete Shanks & Marcy Darnovsky, Biopolitical TimesDecember 20th, 2015Here are a few of our favorites blogs of 2015.
Weak Arguments For Modifying the Human Germlineby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 10th, 2015At the International Summit on Human Gene Editing, philosopher John Harris engaged in tired and absurd attempts to justify engineering future humans.
Extreme Genetic Engineering and the Human FutureReclaiming Emerging Biotechnologies for the Common GoodThe Center for Genetics and Society and Friends of the Earth examine the human applications of synthetic biology. This 50-page report challenges claims that this new set of genetic engineering techniques should be seen as "the future of manufacturing, engineering and medicine."
Gene Editing and Eugenics (Opinions Vary)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 29th, 2015A recent commentary on the UK law allowing clinical use of mitochondrial replacement celebrates it as a benign form of eugenics. Is there such a thing?
Big Money Heading for Consumer Genomicsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 15th, 2015Investors are now betting hundreds of millions of dollars that the direct-to-consumer testing business will become profitable.
Considering CRISPR: Putting a thumb on the scale?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 24th, 2015The National Academies have announced the date for their International Summit on Human Gene Editing. Are some of the organizers trying to predetermine the outcome?
Talking About the Germlineby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 8th, 2015The debate about heritable human genetic modification continues, with opinions ranging from enthusiasm to dismay, and strong arguments for political as well as scientific involvement.
The Science and Ethics of Genetically Engineered Human DNAby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 18th, 2015Discussion of germline genetic modification continues, most recently in the House of Representatives Research and Technology Subcommittee, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Reframing "De-extinction" by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 28th, 2015Beth Shapiro is advocating for a new definition of "de-extinction" that stresses the ecological niche over genetic identity. She envisages using novel creatures to change entire ecologies.
Stopping or Selling Human Germline Modification?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 7th, 2015Debate about human germline engineering has taken off since publication of a paper describing failed attempts to genetically modify a human embryo.
DARPA, Synthetic Biology and Human Germline Engineering by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2015The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is committed to synthetic biology as one of its four main project areas, and may be involved in human germline experiments.
Hype, Money and Stem Cellsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2015Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times used newly published research to write a scathing article largely focused on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Babies from Two Bio-Dads?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 4th, 2015Recent research on human germ cells has revived speculation about the possible uses of artificial gametes.
Mitochondrial Mission Creep and the Cloning Connection by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 14th, 2015Shoukhrat Mitalipov wants to use nuclear genome transfer for age-related infertility. He has joined forces with the disgraced stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk.
Precision Medicine in Contextby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 5th, 2015President Obama's proposal for a Precision Medicine Initiative – which echoes President Nixon's "War on Cancer" – should start a conversation that includes lots of questions.
Who Needs a Synthetic Biological "Safety Lock"? by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 4th, 2015Two papers published simultaneously in Nature on January 21 describe a novel strategy for biocontainment, involving a strain of E. Coli that is dependent on a synthetic amino acid.
Perils of Artificial Intelligenceby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2015The Future of Life Institute is calling for "research on how to make AI systems robust and beneficial," on the heels of several warnings about potential dire dangers.
Bad Boy Scientism by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 8th, 2015Austen Heinz of Cambrian Genomics has been spouting provocative opinions to get attention. And it seems to be working, from his point of view.
CIRM 2.0by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 7th, 2015The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is attempting a "reboot" in an effort to accelerate the development of cures, though its critics remain skeptical.
Biopolitical News of 2014by Pete Shanks, Jessica Cussins & Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 19th, 2014This is everything important that happened in biopolitics in 2014 (or close to it).
Top Biopolitical Times Posts of 2014by Jessica Cussins & Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2014In 2014, CGS staffers and contributors posted 107 blogs in Biopolitical Times. These are twelve of our favorites.
CRISPR Opportunities ... For What? And for Whom?by Pete ShanksHuffington PostDecember 10th, 2014Money and deals are flowing into companies that promise to edit genes. Human, animal, plant, all kinds of DNA may be on the cutting board.
CRISPR Opportunities … For What? And For Whom? by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 4th, 2014Money and deals are flowing into the companies founded on CRISPR technology, which promises to enable the precise editing of genomes.
Pigs to Peopleby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 24th, 2014Synthetic biology takes aim at xenotransplantation.
Patently Absurd? Or Absurdly Patentable?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 12th, 2014The US Supreme Court might agree to rule on the validity of stem-cell patents, and the Canadian courts are being asked to invalidate a patent on disease-linked genes.
Are All Pluripotent Stem Cells Equal?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 12th, 2014A new paper by long-term advocates of research cloning implies that it has no advantage over reprogramming cells.
Let's Play God (or not)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 14th, 2014Reason magazine earns points for honesty about wanting to use gene drives to "play God" — and for editing skills.
Hwang Woo-suk Reaches the Silver Screenby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 2nd, 2014A new movie opening in Korea is explicitly about how the notorious cloning and stem-cell fraud was revealed, though the names of the principals have been changed.
Synthetic Biology Is What, Exactly?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 1st, 2014The European Commission is the latest body to struggle with defining the term synthetic biology, and has produced a 65-page report.
Drew Endy's Hollywood Dreams for Synthetic Biologyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 18th, 2014Stanford professor Drew Endy is convinced that this is the century of biology, and in particular of making things with biology, but is concerned that popular media do not seem to reflect this.
Shame and Scandal in the 23andMe Familyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 17th, 2014In response to its problems with the FDA and news about family traumas triggered by its tests' "close relatives" option, 23andMe is hiring new executives, including a Chief Privacy Officer.
“Evolution right now is in the marketplace”by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 11th, 2014George Church is as outrageous as ever, while both transhumanist ideas and concerns about increasing inequality are receiving more attention.
"3-Person IVF" Debated in UK Parliamentby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 3rd, 2014The debate in Britain over combining eggs or embryos to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial disease received a public airing, though no firm conclusion, in the House of Commons on September 1st.
Moving on from Nicholas Wade to Continuing Concerns about Scientific Racismby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 14th, 2014Over 140 geneticists publicly criticized Nicholas Wade for distorting their work; but that is unlikely to stop such abuse permanently, and many issues still deserve airing.
Data Yearning to Become Expensive Informationby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 6th, 2014Big players have big “big data and genetics” plans afoot. Here’s the news from Genomics England, 23andMe, Google and Craig Venter.
Failures and Risks in Biosafety Regulationby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 24th, 2014Accidents at CDC and elsewhere point up the difficulties in regulating potentially dangerous releases of genetically modified organisms, which scientists are, quite responsibly, discussing.
Shameful Conflicts of Interest Involving California's Stem Cell Agencyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 9th, 2014The former President of CIRM just took a job on the board of a company that benefited from the agency's grants, highlighting the conflicts of interest that have always bedeviled the agency.
On Meta-Research and the STAP Fiascoby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 7th, 2014The authors of the ballyhooed STAP papers have reluctantly agreed to retract them; meanwhile Stanford is launching a project to investigate the process of research.
Implications of Genetic Diversity in Mexicoby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 25th, 2014Two genomic surveys, one of Mexicans and one of self-identified Latinos, raise questions about the scientific use of cultural terms, and also hold implications for personalized medicine.
Selling Stem Cells Honestlyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 25th, 2014Scientists around the world are campaigning in favor of sensible regulation of stem-cell therapies. It’s about time.
When and How Will We Regulate Synthetic Biology?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 6th, 2014Several discussion documents about potential ways to regulate synthetic biology, nationally and internationally, have recently been published. They range from serious efforts to industry public relations exercises.
Wading into Racismby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 6th, 2014A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History has been out for a month, and the fuss, such as it was, seems to be dying down, but the underlying issues remain significant.
2-4-6-8, Novel Pairs to Replicateby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 29th, 2014A pair of artificial nucleotides have been inserted into E. coli, which reproduced the three base-pairs successfully until the source of nucleotides ran out.
Stem Cells in Sports Medicineby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 29th, 2014The use of adult stem cells in sports medicine is growing, although the evidence that they help post-operative recovery is anecdotal.
Genomic Controversy in Iceland: Déja Vu All Over Againby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 28th, 2014DeCODE Genetics has launched another attempt to gather the population of Iceland into a genetic database.
Scientists, Stem Cells and Self-Delusion?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 10th, 2014A very disquieting meta-analysis casts doubt on recent findings suggesting that bone marrow stem cells can help in treating heart disease.
Nicholas Wade: Genes, Race and Anthropologyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 8th, 2014Is Nicholas Wade shocked and horrified that his new book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, is getting support from racists? Really, what did he expect?
Don’t Know Much about History...by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 1st, 2014A transhumanist lets hyperbole trump history.
More Cloning and Even More Eggsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 30th, 2014For the third time in less than a year, human embryonic stem cells have been derived by cloning, underlining the need to establish federal prohibitions against human reproductive cloning and protections for women who provide their eggs for the research.
Synthetic Criticisms of Real Attempts to Regulate Biologyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 30th, 2014Richard Lewontin has written an article about synthetic biology for the New York Review of Books. Unfortunately, it’s not very good.
Now They're Selling Synthetic Biology as Food?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 16th, 2014The commercialization of synthetic biology has been mostly based on public relations. Now there are efforts to introduce the technology to make food additives, quietly.
How Long Is Immortality?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 15th, 2014A Russian millionaire created a big splash less than a year ago when he sponsored a conference at the Lincoln Center about mind uploading and immortality, but seems to have fallen off the media radar, at least in the U.S.
Update on Controversial Police DNA Collection in the Statesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 3rd, 2014In California, the Court of Appeals confirmed that police may take DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony, at least for now; many other states, but not all, do the same.
Gene of the Week: Entrepreneurship (again)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 2nd, 2014Scientists keep trying, and failing, to find the gene for starting a business.
Chinese Billionaire Funding CRISPR Research at University of Californiaby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 19th, 2014Li Ka-shing funds a new institute devoted to genomic editing and company development, as questions are raised about the distortions charitable donations cause to research funding.
Human Longevity, Inc.by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 6th, 2014Craig Venter's new genomics company may face some stiff competition.
Hwang's Patented Fraud and
New Questions about STAP Cells
by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 19th, 2014Hwang Woo-suk is awarded a U.S. patent based on the work for which he was disgraced almost a decade ago; an investigation is launched into some apparently similar errors in the recent STAP cell papers.
Are STAP Stem Cells a Paradigm Changer? Hopes and Fearsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 6th, 2014Two papers published in Nature on January 30 describe a new and remarkably simple technique for generating cells that can, like embryonic stem cells, develop into many different kinds of cells.
Americans Still Oppose "Playing God" with Geneticsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 6th, 2014Public disapproval of inheritable genetic modification and attempts to revive extinct species is as strong as ever.
Hit-and-Miss Genetic Testingby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 20th, 2014In at least four experiments, identical DNA has been sent to different direct-to-consumer testing companies. In every case, significant anomalies appeared.
Cloning Fraudster Profiled by Big Science Journalsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 19th, 2014Korean stem-cell fraudster Hwang Woo-suk has been busy trying to rehabilitate his reputation and collaborating with the Chinese genomic powerhouse BGI.
Butting Heads Over "De-extinction"by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 16th, 2014Paul Ehrlich and Stewart Brand have written contrasting essays debating the idea of "de-extinction.”
Scientific Concerns about Claims of Stem Cell "Cures"by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 9th, 2014The most recent recurrence of stem cell mania is taking place in Italy, and there are problems worldwide.
Biopolitical News of the Year 2013by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 19th, 2013For better and worse, 2013 has been a year in which several related issues familiar to those who follow human biotechnology moved into the wider sphere of public discussion.
Top Biopolitical Times Posts of 2013by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2013Some of our favorites of the year, including comments on genetic tests, mitochondrial replacement, IQ, eugenics, egg freezing and a whole lot more.
23andMe's Troubles: The Spat over Spit by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 5th, 2013First a warning letter from the FDA, then a class action lawsuit. What's next for Google-backed 23andMe, the only direct-to-consumer genetic testing company still in the game?
Techno-Libertarians and The Circleby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 5th, 2013The new novel by Dave Eggers is a provocative romp and a missed opportunity that does, however, raise a lot of very interesting questions about Silicon Valley culture.
Crispr Goes Commercial by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 5th, 2013A new company, Editas Medicine, has been founded by the scientists who developed Crispr gene-editing technology, with backing from several major venture capital funds.
Human Germline Hype Pings around the Globeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 20th, 2013Crispr gene-editing technology gets a publicity push from a failing British newspaper.
Synthetic Biology: Scientific Advances Outstrip Policy Discourseby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 7th, 2013Synthetic biology has been attracting general mainstream attention recently, not necessarily reflecting the latest scientific advances, which seem not to be engaging policymakers to the extent they should.
Advocating Eugenics in the UK Department of Educationby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 24th, 2013Dominic Cummings, a senior adviser to the UK Secretary of State for Education, recently provoked a flurry of complaints about his technocratic, effectively eugenic, definitely gene-focused approach to public policy.
Science History Rap Battle: Franklin vs Watson & Crickby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 23rd, 2013Seventh-grade students in Oakland, California have put together a fabulous rap about Rosalind Franklin's role in the discovery of the double helix.
Update: The FDA and the Human Germlineby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 10th, 2013The FDA's scheduled October 22–23 meeting to discuss germline mitochondrial replacement is attracting attention from the media and elsewhere.
Canadian LGBTQ Families and Assisted Reproduction by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 9th, 2013A major series of news articles describes "the emerging world of gay parenthood and surrogacy" in Canada — and abroad.
23andMe Says It's Not (Now) in the Designer Baby Businessby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 4th, 2013The direct-to-consumer genetic testing company was awarded a patent for "gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations," but now says it has no intention of using the technology.
Google vs Death? Really?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 20th, 2013Google just announced a new company, Calico, that will focus on aging and associated diseases. Former Genentech CEO Art Levinson will be in charge, but so far it has no other employees and no clear business plan.
The Politics of Sex Selective Abortion Bans in the UK and the USby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 12th, 2013Recent publicity in the UK, and lawsuits and legislative hearings in the US, are a reminder that right-wing activists make cynical use of the sex selection issue to restrict women's reproductive rights.
An ELSI Program for the BRAIN Initiative?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 29th, 2013The Brain Research initiative announced earlier this year by President Obama is provoking some overdue ethical discussion, but still needs action.
Mistakes Were Made (by Geneticist James Wilson)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 26th, 2013A Wired article on the history of gene therapy downplays the failings of researcher James Wilson — in whose lab Jesse Gelsinger died in 1999 — and casts Wilson as a victim who has rehabilitated himself.
Controversial Korean Stem Cell Powerhouse in Big Trouble?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 22nd, 2013RNL Bio, the controversial Korean biotechnology company, is undergoing some major changes. Its former CEO is under arrest for insider trading, its subsidiaries are going bust and the parent company is being delisted from the stock exchange. But it's still relying on the stem cell business to pull it through.
Illegal Sterilizations in Modern California Jailsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2013The Center for Investigative Reporting has published a detailed exposé of unauthorized sterilizations of unwilling women in California jails from 2006 to 2010, and probably before, bringing the issue to national attention.
"Democratizing Creation" with Synthetic Biology and Glowing Plantsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 27th, 2013A San Francisco company has raised nearly $500,000 via KickStarter to develop and distribute luminescent mustard plants and roses, in an apparent effort to jump-start commercial synthetic biology.
More Reactions to the Supreme Court's Gene Patent Decisionby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 26th, 2013The unanimous Supreme Court decision that human genes may not be patented continues to provoke comment and speculation, some of it contradictory.
Reactions to the Supreme Court Ruling Against Myriadby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 13th, 2013The unanimous Supreme Court decision that human genes may not be patented was greeted with enthusiasm by the large coalition of plaintiffs and supporters, while the losers tried to put a brave face on it.
Supreme Court Strikes Down Gene Patentsby Pete Shanks and Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJune 13th, 2013The Supreme Court's ruling against Myriad Genetics is a triumph for common sense and the common good, and for scientific research and legal fundamentals as well.
Time for the US to Ban Human Reproductive Cloningby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 12th, 2013A major fertility clinic reacted to the recent research cloning paper by speculating that human reproductive cloning may be on the way — demonstrating the need for the United States to join the dozens of countries that already prohibit it.
Discussing "De-Extinction"by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 5th, 2013A one-day conference, "De-extinction: Ethics, Law & Politics," included advocates of the idea, as well as environmentalists, animal welfare experts and philosophers expressing a range of concerns.
Genetic Tests: Who Should Know and Who Should Tell?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 29th, 2013The guidelines about "incidental findings" from genetic tests recently proposed by American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics continue to provoke debate, as does the broad concept of routine whole-genome analysis.
Predicting the IQ of Future Peopleby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 15th, 2013The resignation of Jason Richwine from the Heritage Foundation raised the profile of racist views about IQ. Expect new publicity soon for genetic claims about intelligence.
Direct Action? Seats at the Table? All of the Above?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 2nd, 2013Last week, some 15 French activists in chimpanzee masks disrupted a Forum on Synthetic Biology in Paris, raising questions about the appropriateness of that kind of activism.
Supreme Court Hears Gene Patent Case; Activists Rally on Courthouse Stepsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 18th, 2013The justices heard arguments in the Myriad gene patent case, and seemed critical of the patents but perhaps unwilling to make a broad ruling.
Synthetic Biology as Public Relationsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 17th, 2013Recent synthetic biology projects related to malaria, flu and conservation are providing PR cover for the field and its corporate sponsors.
Should We Be Trying to Bring Extinct Species Back to Life?by Pete ShanksAlternetApril 8th, 2013Here's a look at greenwashing, guilt-tripping and the politics of "de-extinction."
Who Decides What Patients Need to Know?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 2nd, 2013The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics report on "incidental findings" in genetic tests has kicked up a storm of controversy, not least because it seems to contradict February's ACMG recommendations about testing children.
Cloning, De-extinction, and Possibly Human Applicationsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 29th, 2013Synthetic biologist and entrepreneur George Church and cloning expert Robert Lanza are starting a company to change animal reproduction — and maybe human, too, but they wouldn't say that even if it were true.
Broad Public Support for "3-Parent Babies" and Crossing the Human Germline? Not What the Data Sayby Jessica Cussins & Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 21st, 2013The UK regulatory agency’s summary of its public consultation on mitochondria replacement highlights "broad public support" for a procedure that would cross a crucial ethical and policy line. But that support is not actually demonstrated in its data.
Whole Foods to Require Labeling of GMOs, Eventuallyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 12th, 2013For the first time, a major national grocery chain has committed to labeling GMO foods.
Cloning All Over Again: Reviving the Idea of Re-creating Speciesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 7th, 2013An environmentalist-turned-techno-enthusiast, a synthetic biology champion, and a cloning expert are teaming up to promote what they call "de-extinction."
Guidelines for Genetic Testing of Childrenby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 28th, 2013A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Medical Genetics discusses when doctors should suggest a genetic test for a child.
"Genius Genes" to be Named in Three Months, Says Chinese "Wunderkind"by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 20th, 2013BGI, the Chinese gene-sequencing behemoth, is working with Stephen Hsu and Robert Plomin in an attempt to identify genes for intelligence.
Gene-ism and the Trout in the Milkby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 19th, 2013The remains of King Richard III were not really identified by DNA, but that was what the headlines said.
How Soon Is Now? Prenatal Tests Racing from Theory to Practice by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 5th, 2013The rapid development and deployment of non-invasive prenatal genetic tests may be outstripping the ability of society to respond to them.
George Church on Neanderthal Clones and Designer Babies by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 23rd, 2013George Church now says that he doesn't advocate cloning a Neanderthal with a human surrogate. Here's some context.
Wanted: Adventurous Surrogate to Gestate Neanderthal Baby [updated]by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 19th, 2013George Church speculates about an "adventurous female human" willing to be impregnated with a synthetically constructed and genetically engineered Neanderthal-like clone.
Follow the Biotech Money … If You Can Find It by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 9th, 2013In a relatively slow period for mergers and acquisitions in genomics and related sectors, Illumina, Amgen, BGI, and BioTime were buyers and 23andMe added financing while Geron sold and Roche held off.
Tell the FDA: No Genetically Modified Salmonby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 2nd, 2013The FDA released a "Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact" about a modified Atlantic salmon, but invites comments before a final decision.
Biopolitical News of the Year 2012by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 20th, 2012Artificial gametes and renewed advocacy of inheritable genetic modification are featured in our summary of the news, along with prenatal and other genetic testing, commercial surrogacy, egg freezing, eugenics, DNA databases, stem-cell scandals and more.
Top Biopolitical Times posts of 2012by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 19th, 2012Some of our favorites of the year, including comments on genetic privacy, embryos for sale, April foolery, fraud, eugenics and a whole lot more.
New Business Plans for the Direct-to-Consumer Gene Testing Industry? by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 9th, 2012The direct-to-consumer gene testing industry is still evolving, and searching for ways to profit.
DNA Forensics Update by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 28th, 2012The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to consider a potentially significant case about police collection of DNA from suspects rather than criminals; and forensic DNA databases round the world continue to proliferate.
Clones and Cloud Atlasby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 2012Of the many characters in Cloud Atlas that explore what it means to be human, the most eloquent is a genetically engineered clone.
Money Doesn't Talk, It Liesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 1st, 2012California's Proposition 37, which would require labeling of genetically modified food, is being battered by a million dollars a day of deceptive commercials, but the race is roughly tied.
Advocating Human Germline Interventionsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 28th, 2012Scientists in Oregon have published a paper that explicitly challenges the legal and procedural system that forbids genetic experiments on future generations, but most reports miss the full implications of the announcement.
Stem Cell Controversy #1: Celltex and the FDAby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 18th, 2012The FDA has warned Texas stem-cell treatment company Celltex, and the review board that approved its activities, that the company is illegally selling an unlicensed drug and violates good manufacturing practices.
Stem Cell Controversies #2, #3, and #4: Some Careers (But Not All) Seem to Be Immortalby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 18th, 2012Michael West and Thomas Okarma want to take back Geron; Glenn McGee seems to have moved to Europe; and a Japanese fraud's career is over.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells and Germline Engineeringby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 16th, 2012Japanese researchers have created mice by using sperm and eggs grown from induced pluripotent stem cells, a development that could bring human germline engineering much closer.
Got Hypoallergenic Milk? Noby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 3rd, 2012Scientists have created a genetically modified cow that produces milk without a specific protein that may cause allergic reactions. But their achievement has been badly misrepresented, since its milk does contain higher levels of another allergenic protein.
Is This Informal Surrogacy or Exploitation?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 2nd, 2012A bizarre situation in Texas is either the result of a horrible misunderstanding about an informal, unpaid surrogacy or an appalling case of exploitation.
Crucial GMO Food Fight in Californiaby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 20th, 2012California's Proposition 37 aims to label GMO foods, and the industry is fighting back hard.
The Limitations of Voluntary Guidelinesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 21st, 2012Guidelines on paying for women's eggs and on embryo implantation are regularly being ignored, even by members of the fertility industry's professional organization.
Ethics Schmethics Says Ethicistby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 19th, 2012The approach of the Olympics sparks the usual flood of pro-enhancement articles, notably an interview with Julian Savulescu.
"Tainted Families" Ancient and Modernby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 11th, 2012Paul Lombardo has well summarized the use of the "Jukes family" myth to promote eugenics, in the 19th, 20th and now 21st century.
Survival of the Fastest?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2012Michael Johnson, the legendary athlete, recently made global headlines for suggesting that black American and Caribbean sprinters have a "superior athletic gene."
Will the FDA Close Down Celltex? by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 28th, 2012An FDA report itemizes 79 specific problems with the Texas stem-cell company Celltex, and more trouble may be on the way.
DNA Sells! (But don't give people ideas) by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 26th, 2012Madonna, the maven of media manipulation, deftly harvests headlines by denying fans her DNA.
Genetic Purity Tests for Politiciansby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 14th, 2012A Hungarian member of parliament has a certificate stating that his genetic ancestry is neither Jewish nor Roma, which set off a storm of protest.
Learning the Right Lessons from Eugenicsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 12th, 2012Ross Douthat's column in The New York Times makes some valid points and some spectacularly ill-judged ones.
More Scandals in South Koreaby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 8th, 2012Fresh accusations of stem-cell fraud, whose full extent is yet unknown, are rocking South Korea and threatening to damage the nation's reputation again.
Sex Selection, Politics and U.S. Lawby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 31st, 2012A cynical attempt to make access to abortion harder by banning selective-abortion failed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
More Fun with Genomic Studiesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 30th, 2012A gene of the week for smoking, and cheerful genetic news about very old people.
Genomic Medicine Stumbles Forwardby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 29th, 2012Recent reports that all of us have large numbers of rare genetic variants complicate the prospects for therapies.
Another Commercial for Dog Cloningby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 25th, 2012A TV network seems to be attempting a proof of PT Barnum's famous proposition.
Bioeconomy in South Korea, Again by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 15th, 2012South Korea is investing in the bioeconomy again, despite the scandals of the last decade.
A New Technique for Human Genetic Modification?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 1st, 2012Chinese scientists have developed a new way to reproduce genetically modified mice, and are already speculating about human applications.
Mara Hvistendahl's Unnatural Selection Finalist for Pulitzer by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 26th, 2012Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men has been cited as one of the best books of 2011 by many publications, and has now been recognized by the Pulitzer Board as a finalist for the General Nonfiction award.
Anonymous DNA? No, It's Notby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 19th, 2012An article in Nature Genetics essentially says that keeping aggregated DNA data anonymous is impossible, which raises important questions about privacy and the conduct of research.
Discussing Transhumanism on Al-Jazeeraby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 5th, 2012Al Jazeera, the global TV and multimedia news organization, recently featured a discussion of transhumanism.
A Burst of Useful (Not Utilitarian) Bloggingby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 22nd, 2012Bioethicists' articles about the permissibility of infanticide and a pill for racism have been drawing a buzz of outrage.
Gene of the Week — Not!by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 5th, 2012A pair of political scientists who specialize in behavioral genetics demolish a paper for claiming that "two genes predict political voter turnout" and then draw much broader conclusions about the failures of reductionist genomics.
Stem Cell Fraud Is the Real Issue in Texasby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 2nd, 2012Bioethicist Glenn McGee has resigned from Celltex. His connection with the controversial stem-cell company has raised important issues about its business practices.
Worrying New Signs of Interest in Re-engineering Humansby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 23rd, 2012Several academics and defense department employees are actively discussing the idea of engineering people, for warfare, to express social values and even to react to climate change.
Rick Perry, Glenn McGee and Selling Texas Stem Cellsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 16th, 2012Gov. Perry is actively promoting an industry based on adult stem cells, in which Glenn McGee, until recently editor of the American Journal of Bioethics, is now employed.
First Cloned Pet Turns 10by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 15th, 2012The first cloned cat was announced 10 years ago this week, but her birth did not herald a successful industry.
Unethical Bioethicists?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 10th, 2012Questions are swirling around the American Journal of Bioethics, whose founder and former editor has moved on to work for a stem-cell company, while his wife moves up to co-editor.
Gene of the Week: Wall Street!by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 8th, 2012An article in the Wall Street Journal, citing published research, speculates about the existence of a "Wall Street Gene" and proposes testing for it.
ACT Publishes First, Tentative Results of Embryonic Stem Cell Trialby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 25th, 2012Advanced Cell Technology released very limited but mildly promising preliminary results of its clinical trial, and convinced some, though not all, reporters to hype it.
A New Push for Human Cloning in Koreaby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 20th, 2012Korean Professor Park Se-pill has confidently announced his intention to clone human embryos and derive stem cells from them, and is even willing to discuss human reproductive cloning.
Dog Cloning Infomercial on TVby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 12th, 2012A soft-focus TV documentary downplayed the practical realities of dog cloning in favor of kooky-human dramas
60 Minutes Exposes Stem Cell Scams — Againby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 10th, 2012For the second time in two years, 60 Minutes exposes a stem-cell scam and stresses that these are not isolated instances.
News of the Year 2011by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 22nd, 2011Sex selection, surrogacy and gamete donation became public controversies; shock waves rocked the stem-cell business; and other news of the year.
Top Biopolitical Times Blog Posts of 2011by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 22nd, 2011Our favorite posts of 2011: We comment on race and genes in the patent office and the courts; surrogacy and other scandals; prisoners in clinical trials; a porn gene, a Christian gene, and a gene ring; disability justice and cyborg fantasy; sex selection in the US; reverse evolving the chicken; and more.
Ethics Concerns about Geron's Exit from the Stem Cell Businessby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 15th, 2011Some stem-cell scientists and bioethicists are critical of Geron's early termination of a clinical trial and willingness to include one last patient.
Payment for Bone Marrow Donors?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 8th, 2011A federal appeals court has ruled that in certain circumstances it may be legal to pay for materials used in bone marrow transplants; Professors Greely and Capron respond.
Signs of Skepticism About DNA Forensicsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 1st, 2011Several recent editorials and other articles are expressing a more nuanced view of the issues involved in DNA forensic databases.
Geron Quits the Embryonic Stem Cell Industryby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 16th, 2011Geron has cancelled its clinical trial of a stem-cell treatment for spinal cord injuries, raising questions about the future of the company and the industry.
Visa Wants to Make Money off Your DNAby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 3rd, 2011Visa has filed a patent application for a process that would use, among other sources, DNA databases to identify potential advertising targets.
Moral Obligations For Thee But Not For Me?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 27th, 2011Calls for the general public to volunteer for clinical trials sit strangely with the behavior of some pharmaceutical companies and physicians.
Hwang Clones Coyotes, Scores Headlinesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 19th, 2011Disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk continues his efforts at rehabilitation by cloning endangered coyotes.
More on Cash for Eggsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 13th, 2011The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has issued a report about the provision of human bodily material for medicine and for research, including the issue of payment for gametes.
A Campaign to Allow a Market in Women's Eggs for a New Kind of Cloning Researchby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 7th, 2011An article about a new approach to cloning research was published this week, along with a coordinated and obviously political effort to encourage paying women to undergo egg extraction for research.
A Campaign to Allow a Market in Women's Eggs for a New Kind of Cloning Researchby Pete ShanksOctober 7th, 2011An article about a new approach to cloning research was published this week, along with a coordinated and obviously political effort to encourage paying women to undergo egg extraction for research.
Stem Cells Update: Clinical Trials, Possible Funds, Long-Range Visions and Short-Term Scamsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 29th, 2011Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are edging back into the spotlight, with some tentatively hopeful news, and some schemes, visions, government money and possible scams.
Cats as Experimental Animals for Human Diseasesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 15th, 2011Genetically modified cats have been created, partly in the hopes of advancing AIDS research.
Yet Another Idea for Using Biotechnology to Rescue Endangered Speciesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 8th, 2011Scientists have reprogrammed skin cells from two endangered species into stem cells, and hope to use them to generate gametes, which has provoked press speculation.
Science Magazine Boosts Synthetic Biologyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 7th, 2011A special feature in Science magazine is devoted to promoting synthetic biology.
More on the Guatemala Syphilis Scandalby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 1st, 2011The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues concluded its investigation of the horrifying Guatemalan syphilis experiments this week, and began to consider some new regulations.
The Blade Runner's Personal Victoryby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 31st, 2011Oscar Pistorius, running on two prosthetic legs, reached the semifinals of the track and field World Championship 400m race, encouraging some potentially important discussions.
Regulating the "Global Baby"by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 4th, 2011George Annas analyzes last year's Canadian Supreme Court decision about regulating assisted reproduction, and the implications for the U.S. and other countries.
The Myriad Breast Cancer Patent Case Continuesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 1st, 2011A federal appeals court mostly overturned the lower court ruling that invalidated Myriad's patents on breast cancer genes, but further appeals are expected.
How to Hack a Genomeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 20th, 2011Synthetic biology seems to have taken a major step forward, with the publication of a technique for making multiple alterations to a living genome.
Fallout from Using DNA to Identify Osama bin Ladenby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 13th, 2011The CIA organised a fake vaccination program in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from Osama bin Laden's family.
New Chair for California Stem Cell Agencyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 29th, 2011By a narrow margin, the CIRM board elected financier Jonathan Thomas as Chair, provoking significant criticism over his huge salary.
Promoting a Genetic Basis for Crimeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 23rd, 2011An article in the New York Times celebrates a misguided trend toward genetic explanations for crime.
Eight Babies and the End of a Doctor's Careerby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 15th, 2011Fertility specialist Dr. Michael Kamrava lost his license to practice medicine for repeated negligence involving three patients, including the mother of octuplets.
The Serious Intent Behind a Ridiculous Ideaby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 7th, 2011More publicity for the Seasteading Institute elicits laughs, but functions as propaganda to normalize extreme ideas.
Advertising As Threat: Will Your Kid Die From Exercise?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 7th, 2011A gene test is being marketed to parents with the scare claim that some over-exercised kids might die, but the FDA is investigating.
Gallup Poll: Cloning Still Unpopularby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 1st, 2011The annual Gallup survey of opinion on moral issues shows continuing strong opposition to reproductive cloning.
An Uncomfortable Synthesis of Art and Biologyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 26th, 2011The Natural History Museum in Vienna is hosting the Bio:Fiction Science, Art & Film Festival, which features work about synthetic biology.
Dreams of the Weekby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 18th, 2011Several recent announcements and studies appear to presage renewed interest in manipulating the biology that is thought to control longevity and especially our children's happiness and intelligence.
Petition for an Egg Donor Registryby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 5th, 2011A petition being circulated by the Alliance for Humane Biotechnology calls for the creation of a well-publicized national registry to track the long-term risks of egg retrieval.
Trust-Busting in the Baby Business?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 5th, 2011An antitrust suit against the ASRM, SART and the Pacific Fertility Center claims they are illegally conspiring to hold down payments for women's eggs.
ESHRE on Reproductive Tourism: Be Niceby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 26th, 2011The ESHRE "Good practice guide for cross-border reproductive care" is better on defining issues than solving problems.
Media Passes Gene Test, Parents Flunkby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 21st, 2011Parents interested in having their own genes tested also want to test their kids, but the media reports quote experts recommending against routine testing of children for adult-onset diseases.
Bioethicists Show How to Disagree Without Rancorby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 19th, 2011Excerpts of a conversation between Arthur Caplan and Robert P. George demonstrate the possibility of constructive discussions about difficult ethical issues.
Forensic DNA databases — without prior arrestby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 12th, 2011Potential offenders, never arrested or even individually identified as suspicious, are now being required to provide the authorities in at least two European towns a sample of their (canine) DNA.
Identical Twins Are Genetically Differentby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 5th, 2011Researchers looking for a genetic basis for schizophrenia report that monozygotic twins, always assumed to be genetically identical, in fact have different DNA.
Gene of the Week: Christianityby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 1st, 2011Gay scientists are reported to have isolate the 'Christian gene' and to have successfully removed it from experimental rats.
Scotland Yard "seduced for years by science and DNA"by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 29th, 2011Scotland Yard has admitted that basic errors, apparently arising from an over-reliance on forensic DNA, allowed a multiple burglar and rapist to stay free for ten years after he should have been caught, preying on at least another 146 victims.
DNA Databases and Familial Searching: Handle with Careby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 24th, 2011The second California arrest after familial DNA matching should raise more questions, and provoke more discussion, than it so far has.
Profits, Princes and Police DNA Databasesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 16th, 2011A new investigation reveals disturbing commercial pressures to establish forensic DNA databases that may go well beyond legal limits in Europe and the US.
What is it about people who want to clone dogs?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 9th, 2011Another eccentric character is paying $310,000 to have two dogs cloned in Korea.
More on Genetic Rights in the Statesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 4th, 2011California and Vermont have joined Massachusetts in introducing legislation intended to safeguard genetic privacy.
Criminal Surrogacy Ring Exposed in Thailandby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 2nd, 2011Police in Thailand have broken up a criminal operation, apparently based in Taiwan and with an office in Cambodia, that sold the services of Vietnamese women as surrogates.
Pushing the Bioethics Envelope to Serve Neo-Eugenic Purposesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 24th, 2011Prominent British-based bioethicists seem to be changing the terms of debate, in favor of eugenic interventions.
Massachusetts Considers Genetic Bill of Rightsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 21st, 2011A state initiative to protect genetic rights would be a good next step that might spur the Federal government into further action.
More on the Prospects for Genomic Medicineby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 16th, 2011Nature weighs in on the future of effective medical genomics, which seems some decades away.
Isn't It Time to Focus on the Real Future?by Jillian Theil and Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 16th, 2011Time magazine features a glowing story about Ray Kurzweil, of Singularity fame. But does the hoopla around Kurzweil's tomorrow distract from the important problems of today?
Still Waiting for the Genomic Revolution in Medicineby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 8th, 2011Ten years after the publication of the first drafts of the human genome, the clinical value of genomics is controversial.
Appeals Court Overturns Sentence Based on "Porn Gene"by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 2nd, 2011A judge increased a sentence because he believed the offender had a gene that would eventually be identified; the Court of Appeals called this a "plain error" and sent the case to a different judge for re-sentencing.
Feds to Pay States to Expand Forensic DNA Databases?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 26th, 2011A newly introduced bill would incentivize states to expand the collection of DNA from people arrested for certain crimes, before trial let alone conviction.
Will the UK legalize paying women for their eggs?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 19th, 2011The UK is starting a public consultation that is widely considered to be an attempt to evade the ban on paying for eggs and sperm.
Testing for Brainsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 19th, 2011Discussing DTC tests, even libertarians seem to slip into some kind of contradictory acceptance of regulation.
Dog, Inc.: A Book About Peopleby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 11th, 2011A new book about dog cloning offers a deadpan description of the people involved.
Top News Stories of 2010by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 21st, 2010The year saw some notable headlines about human biotech issues, controversies both entertaining and tragic, and a number of significant but tentative adjustments to the law.
Twists and Turns in California Stem Cell Leadershipby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 14th, 2010The position of Chairman at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has become embroiled in controversy.
Gene of the Week: One-night standby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 7th, 2010A small, tentative study is over-hyped even by its authors to emphasize casual sex.
The Corrupting Influence of the Business of Biotechby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 23rd, 2010Many scientists seem oblivious of the potential that industry funding offers for conflicts of interest.
Europeans Want Regulation for Biotechby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 18th, 2010The latest Eurobarometer report on biotechnology shows that Europeans, in general, support medical uses of technology as long as they are carefully regulated.
Science in the New York Timesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 11th, 2010The anniversary issue of the Science Times section includes analysis and predictions as well as news.
Mixed Signals About the Business of DTC Gene Testsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 10th, 2010Consumers may not get much benefit from gene tests, but perhaps big pharma will.
New ETC Report on Synthetic Biology & the Global Biomass Grabby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 3rd, 2010"The New Biomassters" considers the wider implications of the proposed new bioeconomy, which will exploit the people of the global South.
Group That Pays Addicts to Be Sterilized Takes Its Publicity Abroadby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 28th, 2010The controversial Project Prevention has just paid its first British addict to be sterilized, and plans outreach to Australia.
Abolishing (and Replacing) the UK HFEAby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 28th, 2010The UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is to be abolished, as part of a massive governmental reorganization, and its responsibilities reassigned.
Embryonic Stem Cells: A Small Step Forward?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 21st, 2010Geron's first clinical trial involving embryonic stem cells is greeted without much enthusiasm -- except by its competitors.
Nobel Award for IVF Sparks Speculationby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 7th, 2010The Nobel Prize awarded to Robert Edwards, for developing IVF, provoked some disturbing speculation.
Building Brighter Kids? Not exactlyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 7th, 2010A Time Healthland headline grossly distorts a legitimate study on the effects of IVF on children.
NIH Ethics Advisory Committee Disbandedby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 30th, 2010The abrupt cancellation of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society is a disquieting development.
International Survey of ART Releasedby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 23rd, 2010The International Federation of Fertility Societies has just released Surveillance 2010, the 5th edition of a triennial global survey of the assisted reproduction industry.
Mary Shelley and the Modern Worldby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 22nd, 2010Out of the Shadows, a new novel by Joanne Rendell, touches on several current genetic issues, and connects them with the author of Frankenstein.
When Racism and Genism Mixby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 13th, 2010There have recently been several disturbing indications in Europe of racism with a genetic twist. Mainstream reaction has been critical, but the racists have their defenders.
The Great Gene Hunt (cont'd)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 3rd, 2010Accurate reporting and headlines should not be noteworthy, but when it comes to genetics they are -- and Reuters got one right.
ART and Art in the Movies 2010by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 25th, 2010Assisted reproductive technologies are a repeating theme this year in Hollywood, and the results seem to be decidedly mixed.
Time to Clean Up After Cloning Cattleby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 17th, 2010The USDA is still committed to promoting livestock cloning, but recent bad publicity makes it clear that the technology remains unpopular, unnecessary, and unethical.
"Weak and Meaningless" Guidelines for UK DTC Testsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 10th, 2010The UK Human Genetics Commission's "A Common Framework of Principles for direct-to-consumer genetic testing services" rejects government regulation and relies entirely on voluntary guidelines.
Stem Cell Education and Hypeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 4th, 2010The embryonic stem cell lobby seems to be making a concerted effort to promote their technology.
A People's History of the Human Genomeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2010Genewatch UK marked the 10th anniversary of the Human Genome Project announcement by publishing an extraordinary History with important current policy implications.
A Curious Incidentby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2010The 10th anniversary of the first Human Genome Project announcement passed with remarkably little hoopla.
A Singular Kind of Eugenicsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 16th, 2010Modern techno-utopianism, discussed in a recent feature on Singularity University, has worryingly eugenic overtones.
"Splice" is an Infertile Hybridby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 8th, 2010The movie Splice is neither deep enough to be interesting nor shocking enough to succeed as horror.
Tragedy on the Pharmby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 24th, 2010Cows genetically modified to produce human follicle stimulating hormone died unexpectedly from vastly enlarged ovaries, unleashing a storm of controversy in New Zealand.
UC Berkeley Proposes Genetic Testing of Freshmenby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 23rd, 2010The University of California, Berkeley is proposing that incoming freshmen provide samples of their own DNA for genetic analysis.
Reactions to Venter's Latest Synthetic Biology Announcement by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 22nd, 2010The announcement of the first self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cell provoked considerable comment, and led President Obama to make synthetic biology the first order of business for his Bioethics Commission.
IVF Doc Promotes IVF Shockby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 20th, 2010New reports that IVF will replace sex turn out to be based partly on a misunderstanding.
Every Dog in the Databaseby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 19th, 2010A ritzy condo in Baltimore is proposing to mandate DNA tests for every dog in the building.
Incentives for Donation of Human Bodily Material?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 10th, 2010The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has launched a public consultation about donating, or perhaps selling, human bodily material.
Fiction in Scienceby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 7th, 2010The journal Science cheapens its coverage of an important paper by including speculation, which it refutes, about the cloning of Neanderthals.
When Cultures Collideby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 28th, 2010The lawsuit brought by 41 members of the Havasupai Indian tribe against Arizona State University has implications that go far beyond last week's settlement.
Pretending to be Toughby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 19th, 2010The English forensic DNA database has been dragged into the current UK election campaign with false accusations that supporting reform means being "soft" on crime.
Struggling to Control Fertility Tourismby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 17th, 2010Several countries are trying to figure out what to do about their citizens who go abroad for assisted reproduction procedures to evade local prohibitions (or just to save money).
President Obama's Bioethics Commission by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 13th, 2010The recently announced membership of the new Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues is, as expected, significantly different from that of its predecessor.
Historic Gene Patent Ruling Provokes Cheers and Jeersby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 31st, 2010A landmark court ruling that human genes cannot be patented provokes both praise and criticism.
Selling With Stem Cellsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 24th, 2010The Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) is battling biotech companies over "stem cell cosmetics," some of which are already on sale in the U.S.
23andWho?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 23rd, 2010The most prominent personal-genomics companies are struggling and may be threatened by advancing technology.
One of the Leading Scientists in the World?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 15th, 2010Robert Lanza, the Chief Scientific Officer of Advanced Cell Technology, projects great self-confidence, but is it justified?
Eugenics: Remembering History and the Living Victimsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 12th, 2010New initiatives in North Carolina and Canada aim to confront the legacy of 20th-century eugenics.
DNA Ancestry Testing on TVby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 10th, 2010"Faces of America," with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., raised interesting questions though it somewhat over-simplified DNA ancestry testing.
The Motherland Needs ... Clones of Me!by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 3rd, 2010Ultra-nationalist Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky objects unsuccessfully to extending the Russian moratorium on reproductive human cloning.
Caveat Emptorby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 24th, 2010Allerca Lifestyle Pets, the company that claims to sell hypoallergenic cats, may not be out of business after all, but it may be in trouble.
The "Medical" Justification for Re-creating Neanderthalsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 16th, 2010"Should We Clone Neanderthals?" asks an article in Archaeology magazine.
Synthetic Biology as Super-Weapon?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 10th, 2010DARPA is investing in synthetic biology -- and provoking some criticism.
Hwang Tries for a Comebackby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 5th, 2010Hwang Woo-Suk is making active efforts to salvage his reputation, and to reestablish himself as a force in science.
Two More "Lazarus" Projectsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 3rd, 2010Genomics is being used in attempts to revive both the Aurochs and a species of Galápagos tortoise.
Looking Back a Decadeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 27th, 2010The Center for Genetics and Society has been active for about a decade, and at the start of a new one it seems appropriate to take a look back.
Struggling SynBio Gets a Boostby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2010The tenth anniversary of Synthetic Biology finds a field with mixed prospects, boosted by a new major grant.
Technology Updates: Inheritable Genetic Modificationby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 14th, 2010Two new technologies may make inheritable genetic modification significantly more feasible.
Nudging the Discourse?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 8th, 2010The Popular Mechanics article misleadingly titled "How to Create a Designer Baby" includes a call for regulation of assisted reproduction.
Hot Air and Cat Hypeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 3rd, 2009Allerca Lifestyle Pets is getting out of the hypoallergenic cat business - if it was ever really in it.
Cautious Optimism about Limited Gene Therapyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 23rd, 2009Modestly encouraging signs of progress in gene therapy are welcome but should not be exaggerated.
Genes and Jobs: U of Akron Tests the Testing Lawsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 4th, 2009The University of Akron (UA) has a policy that could require any candidate for employment to submit a DNA sample, despite the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act.
Return of the GenRich?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 29th, 2009There has been a brief flurry of discussion about future separate species of humans.
Hwang is Convictedby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 27th, 2009Hwang Woo-Suk, the notorious Korean stem-cell and cloning researcher, was given a suspended two-year prison sentence and three years of probation by a Seoul court on Monday.
Genotyping Childrenby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 29th, 2009Twice in the last few weeks Anne Wojcicki, of 23andMe, has strongly defended genotyping children, an increasingly controversial practice.
Lou Hawthorne Quitsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 18th, 2009BioArts, the successor to Genetic Savings and Clone, has stopped selling dog clones.
What's in a Name?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 14th, 2009The naming of a new park after noted eugenicist William Shockley has drawn international attention to the small town of Auburn, California.
Korean Cloning Updateby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 3rd, 2009A cloned wolf has died mysteriously, and other news from Korea.
Capitalism 1, Transhumanism 0by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 31st, 2009Singularity University's first students have revealed the projects for which they are seeking capital, and they backed away from transhumanist or singularitarian ideas.
The Gray Areas at the Edges of Regulationby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 26th, 2009The UK experience with regulation continues to offer lessons, as sperm sellers are arrested, US companies promote sex selection to Britons, and an MP has his DNA removed from the police database.
Furry Mathby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 21st, 2009The South Korean biotechnology company RNL Bio has just made a substantial commitment to commercial dog cloning.
Would you like them with a mouse?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 3rd, 2009Japanese scientists report that mice have (almost) been fooled into making mammoth eggs.
GATTACA Comes to Baseballby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 24th, 2009Major League Baseball has been using DNA tests on prospects from the Dominican Republic.
From the Sports Deskby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2009Letters in the New York Times express opposition to drugs in baseball.
Patriotic Puppies -- and a Prize!by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 23rd, 2009Another pet-cloning company emerges, with the same principals and the same gimmicks.
Family Unbalancingby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 16th, 2009The New York Times is reporting on evidence that Americans of Chinese, Indian and Korean descent have a statistically significant preference for male children.
Brain Drugsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 11th, 2009Controversy over "cognitive-enhancement" drugs is heating up
Empathy and Eugenics on the Supreme Courtby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 4th, 2009LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik uses Buck vs. Bell as a case study to demonstrate the importance of empathy for Supreme Court justices.
Eugenics and Genetic Screeningby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 20th, 2009A new report raises the specter of eugenics from a libertarian perspective.
Pig Patents Provoke Protests in Germanyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 24th, 2009A street protest outside the European Patent Office in Munich highlights concerns about the patenting of animals.
Answering Questions With Questionsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 23rd, 2009The future of genomics is now the subject of serious debate, with enormous implications for genomic medicine.
Baseball Enhances Philosophyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 16th, 2009More discussion about the article in Nature that advocated the use of "cognitive-enhancing drugs" includes a comparison with baseball's drug issues.
Shake-up Coming in Biotech?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 16th, 2009The financial condition of the biotech industry is looking very bad, according to a Wall Street Journal article and the Burrill Report.
Antinori Clones a Claimby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 4th, 2009The controversial Italian fertility specialist Severino Antinori has said he cloned humans nine years ago, contradicting while roughly copying his own previous claims.
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