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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.



Geneticist Cynthia Kenyon is Heading to Googleby Stephanie M. LeeSan Francisco ChronicleApril 20th, 2014Google's mysterious health venture dedicated to extending human life has quietly lured a biochemistry and biophysics professor acclaimed for her discoveries about the genetics of aging away from UCSF.
Should the U.S. Prohibit Reproductive Cloning?[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Tim SandleDigital JournalApril 18th, 2014Researchers have produced stem cell lines using somatic cell nuclear transfer from cells, making human reproductive cloning more technically feasible. Is this a good idea?
Scientists Make First Embryo Clones From Adults[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Gautam NaikThe Wall Street JournalApril 17th, 2014Scientists for the first time have cloned cells from two adults to create early-stage embryos, and then derived tissue from those embryos that perfectly matched the DNA of the donors.
Advocates for Children and Childhood Mobilizing on Concerns about GM Babiesby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesApril 17th, 2014Concern about "three-person embryo" techniques is growing among advocates for children and childhood.
Weighing the Scales on Genetic Informationby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 15th, 2014More people are choosing not to know what’s in their genome and more people are sharing the complexities and challenges of knowing. How can their choices and experiences inform policy?
The Baby Makers: Critics Push for Regulation of India's Booming Surrogacy IndustryABCApril 15th, 2014Candidates are being urged to finally push through legislation to regulate the country's booming commercial surrogacy industry. "The human rights of the surrogates are not being protected," said author and critic Kishwar Desai.
Guarantee Privacy to Ensure Proper Treatmentby Jeremy GruberThe New York Times, Room for DebateApril 14th, 2014As more and more of this personal information becomes public knowledge, it can be bought and sold by any commercial interests interested in predictive information about an individual's future health status.
Conceiving Identities[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Matt McCallThe Columbia ChronicleApril 14th, 2014In spite of my curiosity, today, at age 19, I do not know anything about my biological father. The absence of this data is the result of a series of errors in both federal and professional oversight of sperm and egg donation.
Human Rights Body Warns Over Mass DNA Screeningby Elaine EdwardsThe Irish TimesApril 11th, 2014A Government proposal which would allow the taking of DNA samples for “mass screening” of certain “classes” of individuals should be prohibited, Ireland's national human rights watchdog has said.
Stocking the Genetic Supermarket: Reproductive Genetic Technologies and Collective Action Problemsby Chris Gyngell and Thomas DouglasWiley Online LibraryApril 10th, 2014Reproductive genetic technologies targeting non-medical traits could lead to collective action problems. Does this risk justify state intervention in the genetic supermarket?
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