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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.



Why Gene Tests for Cancer Don't Offer More Answersby Jessica WapnerScientific AmericanAugust 29th, 2016Genetic profiling of tumors has a long way to go. Many patients learn that their cancers have mutations for which no drug exists
FBI’s New DNA Process Produces More Matches in Suspect Databaseby Devlin BarrettWall Street JournalAugust 25th, 2016In May, the Bureau reduced the number of genetic locations required for a potential match (from 10-13 to 8-9 loci), resulting in thousands of new "hits."
New Surrogacy Bill Bars Married Couples with Kids, NRIs, Gays, Live-ins, Foreignersby Express News ServiceThe Indian ExpressAugust 25th, 2016The Union Cabinet proposes draft bill to only include "altruistic surrogacy" for childless couples who have been married for at least five years.
Surrogacy Still Big Business in Shanghai Despite National Banby Alice YanSouth China Morning PostAugust 25th, 2016Since China's one-child policy relaxed two years ago, the surrogacy industry has been expanding despite recent police raids.
Kuwait’s new DNA collection law is scarier than we ever imaginedby Daniel RiveroFusionAugust 24th, 2016National security policies require residents, citizens, and visitors to submit DNA samples, shaping new definitions of the country's citizenship.
Babies’ Health Could Be Affected by Variation in IVF Nutrientsby Jessica HamzelouNew Scientist August 24th, 2016Pharmaceutical companies keep the "recipe" of IVF culture media a secret, but research suggests long-term health effects for resulting children.
Accessible Synthetic Biology Raises New Concerns for DIY Biological Warfareby Joseph NeighborVICE MotherboardAugust 23rd, 2016The monopoly on biology once held by governments and universities has been broken, posing significant challenges for the international community.
Experimental Cancer Therapy Holds Great Promise — But at Great Costby Meghana KeshavanSTATAugust 23rd, 2016Patients undergoing immunotherapy clinical trials with CAR-T cells are at risk for cytokine release syndrome, but Kite Pharma and Novartis are racing to get FDA approval.
Humans of the Future Could Be Much Faster Than Usain Bolt or Michael PhelpsSouth China Morning PostAugust 23rd, 2016Stephen Hsu predicts the future of selecting genetic variants for our children, ultimately achieving "peak" human performance and intelligence.
Gene Mapping May Not Be for Everyoneby Karen WeintraubUSA TodayAugust 22nd, 2016George Church wants everyone to have their full genome sequenced, but many say we don't know enough about genetics to justify it.
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