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About Disability & Human Biotechnology

Disability rights advocates have been among the earliest and most vocal critics of emerging genetic and reproductive technologies. Many people with disabilities are acutely aware that technologies enabling the selection of “good” genes and “normal” traits can devalue disabled people’s bodies and ultimately their lives.

This concern is informed by past and ongoing discrimination against people with disabilities that often includes brutal practices. For example, twentieth-century eugenicis­ts in the United States and some European countries sponsored programs that sterilized tens of thousands of disabled people. The Nazi genocide began with doctors and nurses exterminating over 100,000 disabled people in German medical facilities; tens of thousands more perished in concentration camps.

This historical context gives pause to disability rights advocates concerned about existing selection technologies that are increasingly being used to prevent the birth of children with particular traits, as well as future technologies that could be used to modify children’s genes.

CRISPR Gene Editing: Proofreaders and Undo Buttons, but Ever "Safe" Enough?by Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesNovember 19th, 2015Recent trends include research reports of "spellcheck" and "undo" functions associated with CRISPR gene editing, and a shift toward greater caution about germline applications.
Gene Therapy: Comeback? Cost-Prohibitive?by Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesNovember 19th, 2015Recent CRISPR news sometimes confuses germline modification - which should be put off limits - and gene therapy, which presents its own set of social and ethical risks to resolve before rushing to market.
Gene Manipulation In Human Embryos Provokes Ethical Questions: This controversial new research could have some serious, long-term societal implications. [Video][With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]
Gene Manipulation In Human Embryos Provokes Ethical Questions[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Rahel GebreyesHuffPost LiveNovember 17th, 2015CGS's Marcy Darnovsky discusses the social implications of leveraging CRISPR gene editing tools to pursue enhanced children.
Better Babiesby Nathaniel ComfortAeonNovember 17th, 2015The long and peculiar history of the designer human, from Plato’s citizen breeders to Nobel sperm banks, and the latest iteration of human genetic perfectability: CRISPR gene editing.
Gene therapies offer dramatic promise but shocking costsby Carolyn Y. Johnson & Brady DennisThe Washington PostNovember 11th, 2015Researchers have partially restored a patient's vision by targeting a gene associated with Leber's congenital amaurosis, but the treatment could cost $500,000 per eye.
CRISPR Gene Editing to Be Tested on People by 2017, Says Editasby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewNovember 5th, 2015The test, to treat a rare form of blindness, would likely be the first to use CRISPR to directly edit the DNA of a person.
Everything you need to know about why CRISPR is such a hot technology[cites CGS]by Dominic BasultoThe Washington PostNovember 4th, 2015Venture capital is responding to the hype surrounding new genetic engineering tools, but many are concerned by the controversial proposition of genetically modifying new humans.
Would you edit your unborn child’s genes so they were successful?by Mairi LevittThe GuardianNovember 3rd, 2015A parent’s desire to do the best for their child could create problems.
Forgotten Stories of the Eugenic Age #4, Part 3: The Blurry Boundaries of Eugenic Infanticideby Natalie OveyssiBiopolitical TimesOctober 29th, 2015The final entry of the three-part examination of Dr. Harry Haiselden, Baby John Bollinger, and the practice of eugenic infanticide explores the legacy of Haiselden’s career and its meaning for the rights of individuals with disabilities.
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