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About US Federal Policies & Human Biotechnology


Federal regulations on most human biotechnologies are inadequate, falling far short of the kind of comprehensive approach that is needed. This situation is due to the unique social and policy challenges posed by human biotechnologies, to the anti-regulatory environment of recent years, and to the divisive politics and religious beliefs that accompany issues involving human embryos.

One regulatory failure is Congress's inability to pass a law prohibiting human reproductive cloning. Nine in ten Americans oppose it, as does every member of Congress and nearly every reputable scientist. Bills that would prohibit reproductive cloning have been introduced several times, but have failed because of disagreements over research cloning.

Another failure is assisted reproduction's scant regulation and oversight. Despite numerous reported abuses and billions of dollars in revenues, federal oversight remains limited to collecting data on success rates.

Medical gene transfer (also called gene therapy) is slightly different. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are supposed to oversee each clinical trial. But researchers have often ignored this requirement, as revealed most dramatically after the death of 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger in a gene transfer experiment.

The most publicized aspect of federal biotechnology policy have been the limitation on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research that was imposed by President Bush in 2001 and removed by President Obama in 2009.



A Paragraph in Slow Motion: Three-Person IVF in The New York Timesby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJuly 10th, 2014A close look at the rhetoric used to justify experimental technologies, and particularly at the way reasonable objections are dismissed.
Protecting Genetic Data - A Primer for Employersby Jeremy GruberCouncil for Responsible Genetics BlogJuly 2nd, 2014It is critical that employers have a full understanding of current genetic privacy and nondiscrimination protections, to ensure their workplaces are in full compliance with federal and state laws.
About That Creepy Biometric Database, FBI, We'd Like to Know a Bit Moreby J.D. TuccilleReasonJune 26th, 2014The FBI's facial recognition database, into which it wants to put 52 million of our mugs by the end of 2015, is only part of its larger Next Generation Identification program.
Selling Stem Cells Honestlyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 25th, 2014Scientists around the world are campaigning in favor of sensible regulation of stem-cell therapies. Itís about time.
Regulation: Sell Help not Hopeby Paolo Bianco & Douglas SippNatureJune 16th, 2014Stem cells are being used as a wedge in calls to allow unproven medical interventions onto the market.
Children of Surrogacy Campaign to Outlaw the Practiceby  Jane RidleyNew York PostJune 16th, 2014"You canít sell your kidney for profit but you can purchase an egg or sell a child. There needs to be more checks and balances."
Who Owns Your Genetic Data? Hint: It's Probably Not Youby Meredith SalisburyThe Huffington PostJune 12th, 2014It seems intuitive to many of us that each person owns his or her genetic data and therefore should control access. But the reality is more complex.
Eugenicists Never Retreat, They Just Regroup: Sterilization and Reproductive Oppression in Prisonsby Loretta RossRH Reality CheckJune 12th, 2014Women in California prisons have been illegally sterilized, nearly four decades after sterilization abuse guidelines were implemented at the state and the federal level.
Should Three People be Allowed to Make a Baby?by Arielle Duhaime-RossVergeJune 12th, 2014Researchers might soon make a child with three genetic parents, but the ethics of "designer babies" haven't been worked out.
A Problem Like No Other: Science And Politicsby Adam FrankNPR BlogJune 10th, 2014Ignoring what scientists are telling us is an ultimately self-destructive act. But when it comes to telling us what we should do, scientists are not in a privileged position.
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