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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.



A Cautionary Tale of ‘Stem Cell Tourism’by Gina KolataThe New York TimesJune 22nd, 2016Jim Gass sought stem cell therapy following a stroke, but the clinics he visited left him with a tumor growing in his spine.
23andMe Sells Data for Drug Searchby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewJune 21st, 2016The consumer genetic-testing startup has amassed one of the world’s largest databases of DNA.
Federal Oversight Group Has Complaints But Says Yes To CRISPR Trialby Alex LashXconomyJune 21st, 2016Concerns arise over consent forms and financial barriers to the CRISPR trial.
Money Behind First CRISPR Test? It’s from Internet Billionaire Sean Parkerby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewJune 20th, 2016A next wave of cancer treatment trials to combine gene editing and immunotherapy.
Read Sonia Sotomayor’s Atomic Bomb of a Dissent Slamming Racial Profiling and Mass Imprisonmentby Mark Joseph SternSlateJune 20th, 2016Her dissent following the 5-3 Utah v. Strieff decision explained the extent to which officers systematically violate predominantly black and brown people's bodily integrity during "stop and frisk" procedures.
Do women who donate their eggs run a health risk?by Sandra G. BoodmanThe Washington PostJune 20th, 2016People who make egg donations may feel exploited during the process and experience serious health consequences due to a dearth of research on the effects of egg retrieval.
Japanese city backs egg-freezing scheme to boost birthrate by Associated Press [Urayasu, Japan]The Guardian June 20th, 2016The city of Urayasu allocates £600,000 for a project in which women will receive a substantial discount to freeze their eggs.
Genetically enhancing our children could raise interest ratesby James D. MillerBusiness InsiderJune 19th, 2016Should researchers develop technology to genetically decipher and alter intelligence, individuals and the state would borrow more and save less.
Workers May Soon Have To Share Health Data — Or Pay A Penaltyby Stephanie M. LeeBuzzFeed NewsJune 18th, 2016Ever thought about joining your work’s wellness program? The consequences of opting out could soon get stiffer.
Subsidised egg freezing isn’t the answer to Japan’s birth rateby Angel PetropanagosNew ScientistJune 17th, 2016The health risks of egg retrieval make Japan's publicly-funded egg freezing initiative a poor solution to the country's problem of population shrinkage.
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