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About Media Coverage & Human Biotechnology


Until a few years ago, human biotechnologies were rarely discussed in the popular media. Now magazine covers, television shows, newspaper headlines and front-page articles showcase their development and the controversies surrounding them.

This increased coverage is welcome; sunlight can be a good disinfectant. Nevertheless, mainstream media coverage has been inadequate or misleading in several regards.

Too often it prematurely celebrates new techniques as "breakthroughs" or "medical miracles," even when they are preliminary and unconfirmed. This is particularly dangerous in a growing culture of "science by press release," where fantastic findings are often later debunked (with less fanfare) by peer review. Also, the press rarely scrutinizes scientists' and bioethicists' statements, actions, or potential conflicts of interest with the same rigor they bring to reports about other public figures.

Lastly, too few media accounts make clear the full import of what's at stake. Excitement about possible new medical therapies tends to drown out consideration of undesirable prospects including genetic discrimination, increased health inequalities, and the misuse of human biotechnologies.



Human Gene Editing: A Timeline of CRISPR Cover StoriesWith recent gene editing tools, a number of high-profile media are featuring CRISPR on their covers and front pages. We gather highlights since early 2015, along with opinion polls, TV shows, and editorial board statements.
'No solid evidence' for IVF add-on successby Deborah CohenBBC PanoramaNovember 28th, 2016A year-long study finds that nearly all costly add-on treatments offered by UK fertility clinics are unreliable, misleading, and risky.
Why the Deaf Community Fears President Trumpby Sara NovicVICENovember 18th, 2016According to his biographer, Trump subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development and the superiority of certain genes — an echo of eugenics.
Palo Alto committee debates whether Jordan school should keep its eugenicist namesakeby Jacqueline LeeSan Jose Mercury NewsNovember 17th, 2016David Starr Jordan, Stanford University’s first president, believed the human race could be improved through selective reproduction, including forced sterilization.
Seeding Doubt: How Self-Appointed Guardians of “Sound Science” Tip the Scales Toward Industryby Liza GrossThe InterceptNovember 15th, 2016Sense About Science has downplayed concerns about industry-funded research and promoted science that favors private interests over public health.
Stem Cell Researchers Anxious About Trump Presidencyby Gillian MohneyABC NewsNovember 11th, 2016Mike Pence opposes federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. But reintroducing a funding ban "would be like putting a genie back in the bottle."
13 Urgent Science and Health Issues the Candidates Have Not Been Talking Aboutby C.U.N.Y. Graduate School of JournalismScientific AmericanNovember 3rd, 2016The prospect of genetically enhanced humans is looming, but has remained unaddressed during this election season.
"Personalized nutrition" isn’t going to solve our diet problemsby Julia BelluzVoxNovember 2nd, 2016The trend of looking at DNA to "revolutionize" health lacks scientific backing and threatens to obscure environmental influences.
Male birth control shot found effective, but side effects cut study shortby Susan ScuttiCNNNovember 1st, 2016Study's findings draw concern over whether contraceptive benefits outweigh the risks for men and women (which could be fatal).
Colin Kaepernick’s 'I Know My Rights Camp' cements his status as a cultural superhero in the black communityby Shaun KingNew York Daily News October 29th, 2016NFL player Colin Kaepernick distributed DNA ancestry tests at a "Know My Rights" youth camp in Oakland, citing their reconciliation value.
Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Cropsby Danny HakimThe New York TimesOctober 29th, 2016Genetic modification in the US and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to overall reduction in pesticide use.
Synthetic human genome project releases its draft timelineby Ike SwelitzStat NewsOctober 28th, 2016HGP-Write rebrands itself suggesting broader visions to synthesize "all sorts of...genomes, not just humans," but issues of transparency loom.
18 Years Later: First Update on Children Born Using 3-person IVF Precursorby Leah LowthorpBiopolitical TimesOctober 27th, 2016Citing a recent study, the media is celebrating "proof" that there is little danger in 3-person IVF. The study itself, however, is not at all certain of the reliability of its results.
3-person IVF and Infertility: What Kind of Slippery Slope is This?by Leah LowthorpBiopolitical TimesOctober 26th, 2016To what extent has anticipation of using 3-person IVF for infertility been part of the story from the start? While we can't know for sure, here are some possible connections.
Fatal experiments: a maverick surgeon strikes backby Nell FrizzellThe GuardianOctober 25th, 2016A new documentary looks at the six patients who died on Dr. Paolo Macchiarini’s watch. When does pioneering medicine become reckless endangerment?
Obama Brought Silicon Valley to Washingtonby Jenna WorthamThe New York TimesOctober 25th, 2016The White House South by South Lawn festival presented the U.S. as a start-up of dreamers and inventors looking to "fix" social problems with tech.
Dangers of an Unscientific Policy Process:
Why the UK’s legalization of “three-person babies” should not be the model for CRISPR
by Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorOctober 25th, 2016The UK’s consideration of the science and public support for “mitochondrial replacement” may seem robust on its surface, but when it comes to CRISPR germline genome editing policy, we can and must do better.
CRISPR gene-editing controversy shows old ideas about East and West still prevailby Calvin Wai-Loon HoEcontimesOctober 24th, 2016Western imaginations tend to fantasize Asian countries as exotic, crude "others," viewing Chinese research as advancing primarily due to an assumed lack of regulation.
The Cash Cow in 'Fertility' Medicineby Pamela M TsigdinosHealthcare in AmericaOctober 23rd, 2016The unregulated fertility industry often fails to disclose: lucrative profits, poor outcomes, emotional burdens, and medical risks.
Just What We Need: Slicker Infertility Marketingby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorOctober 21st, 2016A serial tech entrepreneur launches a new start-up called Prelude with a hipster-chic website downplaying the many unknowns of egg freezing.
Reports of ‘three-parent babies’ multiplyby Sara ReardonNature NewsOctober 19th, 2016Claims of infants created using mitochondrial manipulation techniques in Mexico and China, and two pregnancies in the Ukraine, stir scientific and ethical debate.
Designer and Discarded Genomesby Ruha Benjamine-flux ArchitectureOctober 12th, 2016Field notes from a Harvard meeting on a "synthetic human genome" moonshot reveal the anti-democratic foundations of HGP-Write.
3-Person IVF Breaking News: Where Are the Advocates for the Public Interest? by Leah LowthorpBiopolitical TimesOctober 7th, 2016A baby created via 3-person IVF was delivered by US doctors in Mexico in order to avoid regulation. How has the media responded in the US and internationally?
CRISPR Embryos at Karolinska: Controversies Demand Oversightby Elliot HosmanOctober 7th, 2016Ongoing gene editing experiments in human embryos around the world underscore the need to prohibit modifying cells for use in human reproduction.
Don’t Miss This: The Story of CRISPR Told in a Comicby Kayla TolentinoOctober 6th, 2016Illustrator Andy Warner helps to break down the complexities of the still unraveling CRISPR gene editing story in his recent piece "Bad Blood."
The Promise of Indigenous Epigeneticsby Emma KowalDiscover SocietyOctober 4th, 2016Amid the hype surrounding the biological study of inter-generational trauma, we need to be aware that epigenetics could be used for racist agendas that work against Indigenous health and well-being.
Corporate Culture Has No Place in Academiaby Olof HallonstenNature NewsOctober 3rd, 2016A scandal at the Karolinska Institute demonstrates the risks of academic capitalism: a global trend that turns universities into businesses.
Sally Phillips: Do We Really Want a World without Down’s Syndrome?by Viv GroskopThe Guardian October 1st, 2016The UK national health service will now cover new tests to screen fetuses for Down syndrome. A mother and actress notes the likely result: "It becomes ‘your fault’ if you choose to have the baby."
This May Be The Most Horrible Thing That Donald Trump Believesby Marina Fang & JM RiegerThe Huffington PostSeptember 28th, 2016A film pulls together clips of Trump expressing his eugenic views that intelligence and success are genetically inherited, making some groups destined to failure.
A Top Journalist is Suing the FDA Over Its Alleged Use of a Banned and Secretive Practice to Manipulate the Newsby Dave MosherBusiness InsiderSeptember 24th, 2016The FDA has imposed "close-hold embargoes," which allow reporters access to newsworthy information only if they agree not to contact outside sources, a keystone of journalistic due diligence.
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Announces $3 Billion Investment To Cure All Diseaseby Eyder PeraltaNPRSeptember 21st, 2016For some perspective, the fiscal 2016 budget for the National Institutes of Health is more than $31 billion.
Everything you wanted to know about genetic engineering in one chirpy video[citing CGS' Elliot Hosman]by Michael CookBioEdgeSeptember 16th, 2016The animated video explains the complex present and speculative future of CRISPR well, but takes too optimistic a view of how it might be used.
‘Motherless babies!’ How to create a tabloid science headline in five easy stepsby Gretchen VogelScience MagazineSeptember 14th, 2016Here's the recipe for transforming a modest developmental biology paper into a blockbuster story.
Will Genetic Engineering Really Change Everything Forever? [Video Review]by Elliot HosmanSeptember 8th, 2016The hype surrounding CRISPR gene editing and a future of designer babies is on playback with a popular new video. Is its optimism justified? And who decides what’s inevitable?
Scandals Waiting to Happen: Institutional Conflicts of Interest at California Stem Cell Agencyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 8th, 2016StemCells Inc., which has received tens of millions of dollars from the state-funded stem cell agency, paid its president a hefty sum when he joined its board a week after resigning his position.
The Perils of Planned Extinctionsby Claire Hope CummingsProject SyndicateSeptember 6th, 2016Instead of taking time to fully consider the ethical, ecological, and social issues of gene-drive technology, many are aggressively promoting its use in conservation.
Sperm Donor at Heart of Canadian Lawsuits Admits He Lied to Company Xytex, Police Sayby Diana MehtaThe Canadian PressAugust 30th, 2016Amidst pending lawsuits, Sperm Donor 9623 has turned himself in to the police for "falsifying paperwork."
Public policy must address technology’s impact[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by John M. HeinThe Sacramento BeeAugust 13th, 2016“We need to develop habits of mind, or habits of social interaction, that will allow for some very robust public participation on the use of these powerful technologies,” says Marcy Darnovsky.
Finding Good Pain Treatment Is Hard. If You’re Not White, It’s Even Harder.by Abby GoodnoughThe New York TimesAugust 9th, 2016Researchers have found evidence of racial bias and stereotyping in recognizing and treating pain among people of color, particularly black patients.
To Err is Biotechnological: Reflections on Pew’s Human Enhancement Surveyby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 9th, 2016Biotechnologies aimed at human enhancement come with a guaranteed set of deficits, inadequacies, inconveniences, and risks.
Do Olympians Have Better Genes Than You And Me?by Christina FarrFast CompanyAugust 6th, 2016Genetic tests aimed at discerning the genetic basis for athletic ability could be used coercively, and are undermined by important environmental factors.
The Human Egg Business: More Media Coverage of California Cash-for-Eggs Legislation[citing CGS]by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportAugust 5th, 2016AB 2531, backed by the fertility industry, would remove caps on payments for egg retrieval, thus inducing women to gamble with their health.
Questions about Deaths in Cancer Trials using Gene-Altered Cellsby Katherine DrabiakBiopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 5th, 2016Excitement about immunotherapy and gene therapy approaches to cancer has eclipsed ethical questions about seven recent deaths in clinical trials.
NY Times: Fresh and Major Attention to Immunotherapy and Cancerby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJuly 31st, 2016The New York Times unveiled a dramatic special report on gene therapy and immunotherapy to treat cancer.
The Direct-to-Consumer Stem Cell Industry in the USby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 15th, 2016There are more stem-cell clinics than anyone suspected, and it’s not clear that they are operating with proper supervision.
[September] Victory on CA Eggs-for-Research Bill | Gene Editing Changes Everything? | Jobs at CGSOur monthly newsletter Biopolitical Views & News rounds up our commentary and recent news stories. Here's the September issue!
Puffing Cryonics in New Scientist?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 13th, 2016New Scientist is a popular science magazine that sometimes prioritizes popularity over science.
Two Decades After Dollyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 12th, 201620 years after the first cloned mammal was born, the US still does not have legal prohibitions on cloned people, or on heritable human genetic modification.
UK Researchers Now Say Three-Person Embryo Technique Doesn't Work; Propose New Methodby Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJune 8th, 2016New research shows the mitochondrial manipulation technique recently legalized in the UK faces major unknowns.
The False Promise of DNA Testingby Matthew SchaerThe AtlanticJune 1st, 2016The forensic technique is becoming ever more common—and ever less reliable.
Genes Are Overratedby Nathaniel ComfortThe AtlanticJune 1st, 2016The discovery of DNA wasn’t predestined, nor does it dictate our destiny—and current ideas about it may die.
Genome games: A secret meet and a controversyby Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleMay 22nd, 2016A complete lack of transparency around a gathering to discuss synthetic human genomes triggers anger worldwide.
It's not just stem cell research that's overhyped—medical science spin is a widespread problemby Kelly CroweCBC NewsMay 18th, 2016The International Society for Stem Cell Research is urging scientists to manage public expectations.
Orphan Black emphasizes the science in its sci-fi with a disturbing chapter on eugenicsby Caroline FramkeVoxMay 15th, 2016The BBC America series about human clones is now tackling the personal, scientific, and societal implications of eugenics, gene editing, and germline engineering.
Hacking CRISPR: Patents, Gene Therapy & Embryosby Elliot HosmanMay 5th, 2016As gene editing experiments on human embryos spread, piecemeal hacks of CRISPR are outpacing discussions of the futures it might enable.
Editorial: Editing human genes the CRISPR wayby Editorial BoardThe Chicago TribuneApril 27th, 2016Can we trust scientists and governments to set ethical boundaries for research and therapeutic use — and then stick to them? We're skeptical.
Gay couple win custody battle against Thai surrogate motherby Oliver HolmesThe Guardian [US]April 26th, 2016The central juvenile and family court ruled in favor of the American biological father of 15-month-old Baby Carmen.
Japanese scientists given green light to modify fertilized human eggs[citing CGS]RT [Russia Today]April 22nd, 2016A government bioethics panel in Japan is allowing CRISPR gene editing in human embryos only for basic research purposes.
Meet the feminists who are trying to stop the ‘dictator’s’ daughter from becoming presidentby Manuel RuedaFusionApril 8th, 2016More than 300,000 Peruvian women, most of them poor and indigenous, were sterilized by a birth control program run by president Alberto Fujimori during the 1990s.
Whose Body, Whose Property, What Choice?by Alison Irvine & Katayoun Chamany, Biopolitical Times guest contributorsMarch 21st, 2016A recent panel at The New School brought together speakers on health psychology, queer studies, law, life sciences, and more to discuss bodies purchased for labor and care in assisted reproduction.
Uterus Transplants: Identifying Stakeholders & Objectionsby Elliot HosmanMarch 10th, 2016Clinical trials have migrated from Sweden to the US, and questions regarding safety, ethics, and social justice are mounting.
CRISPR Eugenics in The X Filesby Elliot HosmanMarch 10th, 2016In the comeback season finale, the show explores the use of human gene editing to combat global warming and overpopulation.
My Genes, Myself?by Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorMarch 8th, 2016We have become accustomed to ascribing agency to individual genes. But every now and then a story comes along that reminds us just how foolish we are.
'Idiocracy' Is One of the Most Elitist and Anti-Social Movies Ever—Why Do Liberals Love Referencing It?by Adam JohnsonAlterNetMarch 4th, 2016"The pro-eugenics 2006 film finds a home with confused liberals who would rather blame bad breeding than structural classism and racism."
[Radio] Gene Editing for Individuals and their Families and Family Caregivers[an interview with CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Gordon AtherleyVoice AmericaMarch 1st, 2016A discussion of human gene editing, and the ways it should and not be used.
How Brave New World Is Sneaking Up On Us by John FarrellForbesFebruary 28th, 2016Paul Knoepfler is not a scientist given to alarmism, but it’s pretty clear from his informative new book that the Brave New World is already upon us.
How CRISPR Made it Onto The X-Filesby Jon BrooksKQEDFebruary 25th, 2016The plot involves humans who are stripped of their immune systems, accomplished via CRISPR/Cas9.
'Rogue scientists' could exploit gene editing technology, experts warnby Alan Yuhas and Kamala KelkarThe GuardianFebruary 12th, 2016A senior geneticist and a bioethicist agree with the US spy chief’s claim that gene editing technology could have huge, and potentially dangerous, consequences.
Israeli Parents, Indian Surrogates, a Nepali Earthquake, and "Cheap White Eggs"by Diane Beeson, Biopolitical Times guest contributorFebruary 8th, 2016A recent Radiolab episode reveals rarely examined layers of complexity in the typically fairy-tale accounts of cross-border surrogacy.
Expert: Parents often won't take surrogate kids with defectsby Rod McGuirkAssociated PressFebruary 3rd, 2016Baby Gammy, left by intended parents with his poor surrogate mother in Thailand, was one of several cases of surrogate children abandoned, an expert told a parliamentary inquiry.
Video Review: Talking Biopolitics – A conversation with Paul Knoepfler and Nathaniel Comfortby Dr. Rebecca DimondBioNewsFebruary 1st, 2016"The discussion was timely, following the passing of legislation on mitochondrial donation in the UK in 2015, and amid current debates about gene-editing technologies, such as CRISPR."
A Monkey Circles in a Cageby Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesJanuary 29th, 2016Researchers created transgenic monkeys with a gene duplication associated with Rett Syndrome autism in humans, raising concerns of the limits and ethics of using animal models in biomedical research.
Jordan Middle School, other schools now up for renamingby Elena KadvanyPalo Alto WeeklyJanuary 13th, 2016Middle school students and their parents are objecting to their school being named for Stanford University founding president David Starr Jordan, because of his involvement in the eugenics movement.
The Third Rail of the CRISPR Moonshot: Minding the Germlineby Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesJanuary 13th, 2016Millions of dollars are flowing to biotech companies developing gene-editing therapies. Fortunately, most are publicly denouncing germline applications.
False Inevitabilities and Irrational Exuberanceby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJanuary 8th, 2016In the aftermath on December’s gene editing summit, disquieting themes have emerged in some mainstream media and science blogs.
Whiteness and “Making a Murderer”: Manitowoc, the “One-Branch Family Tree” and the Sinister Race Science of “Degenerate Whites”by Kate TuttleSalonJanuary 7th, 2016The Avery clan’s reputation as "trouble" echoes myths planted by inane, racist eugenicists in the early 1900s.
The problem with science journalism: we’ve forgotten that reality matters mostby Brooke BorelThe GuardianDecember 30th, 2015It is the reporter's job to maintain skepticism, look beyond hypotheses and data, find conflicts of interest, trace the money, look at power structures, and see who is excluded or marginalized.
Biopolitical News of 2015by Elliot Hosman, Pete Shanks & Marcy Darnovsky, Biopolitical TimesDecember 22nd, 2015We highlight 2015’s breaking news stories about human biotech developments.
Top Biopolitical Times Posts of 2015by Elliot Hosman, Pete Shanks & Marcy Darnovsky, Biopolitical TimesDecember 20th, 2015Here are a few of our favorites blogs of 2015.
It is Ridiculously Hard for Californians to get their DNA out of the FBI’s Genetic Databaseby Kashmir HillFusionDecember 18th, 2015More states should make DNA expungement automatic. People shouldn’t forfeit their genetic rights simply because of an arrest.
About Us, Without Us: Inclusion in the Threat of Eradicationby Teresa Blankmeyer BurkeImpact EthicsDecember 8th, 2015Disability rights advocates are still excluded from conversations (such as the International Summit on Human Gene Editing) that involve the survival of our communities.
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]
Bioethics in the Grocery-Store Checkout Lineby Ruth GrahamThe AtlanticSeptember 15th, 2015If you don’t follow celebrity gossip, you might have missed just how often stories about reproductive technology are gracing the covers of tabloid magazines.
In Its Focus on Genetics and Race, Global Newspaper Coverage of Athletics is Far from “Post-Racial”by Matthew W. Hughey & Devon R. Goss USAPP Blog [London School of Economics and Political Science]September 10th, 2015A study of English-language newspaper articles about race, sport, and genetics finds a sharp reemergence of scientific racism.
Nepal Bans Surrogate Births — Worry for Gay Israelisby JTAThe ForwardAugust 27th, 2015Many gay Israelis now travel to Nepal for surrogacy because Israel bans surrogate pregnancies for same-sex couples.
The Facts Behind #CRISPRfacts and the Hype Behind CRISPRby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesJuly 28th, 2015WIRED's hyped CRISPR cover article triggered a wave of tweets and criticism.
Scientist Criticizes Media Portrayal of Researchby Chris WoolstonNature NewsJuly 24th, 2015A psychology researcher looks at media missteps in reporting work on music and the brain.
Forgotten Stories of the Eugenic Age #2: Eugenics, Love, and the Marriage Problemby Natalie OveyssiBiopolitical TimesJuly 20th, 2015When gazing deeply into a lover's eyes, eugenists advised, women should not look for the "yearning, burning, soulful fires, which rage in the erotic litany of love," but for symptoms of eye disease.
Talking About the Germlineby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 8th, 2015The debate about heritable human genetic modification continues, with opinions ranging from enthusiasm to dismay, and strong arguments for political as well as scientific involvement.
Ethics of Gene Editing[with CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Betty RollinKQED Religion & Ethics NewsweeklyJuly 2nd, 2015Marcy Darnovsky of the Center for Genetics and Society discusses possible consequences of human germline gene editing for future generations.
Researchers Oppose Unvalidated Gene Panel Tests for Cancer Linksby Julie SteenhuysenReutersMay 27th, 2015Genetic tests that look for multiple hereditary genes suspected of being linked to breast cancer should not be offered until they are proven to be valid and useful in clinical practice.
Innovation and Equity in an Age of Gene Editingby Charis Thompson, Ruha Benjamin, Jessica Cussins and Marcy DarnovskyThe GuardianMay 19th, 2015As experts gather in Atlanta to discuss the rights and wrongs of editing human genomes, four of the attendees explain why it is vital to put social justice at the heart of the debate.
Seeking Your Input: Survey on Egg Retrievalby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorApril 22nd, 2015We are surveying women’s knowledge and attitudes toward egg retrieval to yield critical insights into how best to frame health information intended to enable women to make informed choices.
Calling for “More than a Moratorium” on Human Germline Modificationby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2015A broader array of critical responses and policy suggestions follows recent reports that the gene-editing technique CRISPR has been used to genetically modify human sperm, eggs or embryos.
Hype, Money and Stem Cellsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2015Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times used newly published research to write a scathing article largely focused on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Gene Counsellors Expect Resurgence of 'Jolie Effect'by Erika Check HaydenNatureMarch 26th, 2015Misinterpreted results of tests for cancer risk can result in unnecessary surgery.
This is Why you Shouldn’t Believe that Exciting New Medical Studyby Julia BelluzVoxMarch 23rd, 2015All studies are biased and flawed in their own unique ways. The truth usually lies somewhere in a flurry of research on the same question.
A Modern Woman's Burden[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Natalie LampertNew RepublicMarch 20th, 2015How much does egg-freezing technology help delay reproduction?
“High IQ Eggs Wanted” – ads appeal to ego and altruism, offer $10,000by Lisa C. Ikemoto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorMarch 19th, 2015The ABCs of egg donation are SAT, IQ, and college ranking, not to mention youth, race, and good looks, but marketing motivates young women with a carefully calibrated ratio of altruism and financial need.
How Identity Evolves in the Age of Genetic Imperialismby Eleonore Pauwels and Jim DratwaScientific AmericanMarch 13th, 2015The Silicon Valley brand of genetic determinism tells us there is a gene-hack to solve every “problem” — that DNA is just a code to personalize at will.
The Price Of Hype: The Public Now Has Unrealistic Timelines For Scienceby Hank CampbellScience 2.0March 11th, 2015Today, people think stem cell therapies already exist. It's not science journalists and bloggers framing this for political gain. The culprits are scientists playing up their research.
Good Eggs, Bad Sperm and Terrible Journalismby Kirsty OswaldBioNewsMarch 2nd, 2015By repackaging the findings to appeal to the mainstream press, the true relevance of this research has been overlooked.
Of Clocks and Mammoths: The Pitch for De-Extinctionby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorFebruary 9th, 2015De-extinction raises a host of questions: ethical, practical, philosophical. But for advocates, there’s a rhetorical question as well: How do you persuade a lay audience to support the project?
Precision Medicine in Contextby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 5th, 2015President Obama's proposal for a Precision Medicine Initiative – which echoes President Nixon's "War on Cancer" – should start a conversation that includes lots of questions.
US Precision-Medicine Proposal Sparks Questionsby Sara ReardonNatureJanuary 22nd, 2015President Obama announced a "Precision Medicine Initiative" in his State of the Union address, but the White House is remaining tight-lipped about the details.
Cell Free DNA Screening is not a Simple Blood TestSociety for Maternal Fetal MedicineDecember 18th, 2014By its very nature, a screening test does not tell with 100% certainty whether or not a fetus will be affected by a given disorder.
Study Points to Press Releases as Sources of Hypeby Chris WoolstonNature NewsDecember 12th, 2014Scientists, press officers and journalists online are pointing fingers in light of a paper that traces the origins of exaggerated claims in health news.
The NFL Has a Problem with Stem Cell Treatmentsby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewDecember 10th, 2014Professional athletes are getting injections of stem cells to speed up recovery from injury. Critics call it a high-tech placebo.
FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancementby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesNovember 12th, 2014The documentary produced and directed by Regan Brashear is receiving a new round of well-deserved positive attention around the world.
A Season of Surrogacy Scandalsby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesOctober 16th, 2014The summer and fall of 2014 have been a season of surrogacy scandals in many countries.
Egg freezing poses health risks to women[Press statement]October 15th, 2014Facebook and Apple’s egg freezing “benefit” is ill-advised for multiple reasons
Let's Play God (or not)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 14th, 2014Reason magazine earns points for honesty about wanting to use gene drives to "play God" — and for editing skills.
Stem Cells for Diabetes: The Danger of the Word ‘Cure’by Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogOctober 13th, 2014Newspapers around the world widely exaggerated the potential impact of the recently reported production of insulin-secreting cells from human embryonic stem cells.
Stem Cell Treatments Surging Into Clinicby Bradley J. FikesUT San DiegoOctober 7th, 2014How the government, insurers and patients would pay for very expensive new stem cell therapies drew the attention of more than 700 biomedical and health-care executives at the 2014 Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa.
Hwang Woo-suk Reaches the Silver Screenby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 2nd, 2014A new movie opening in Korea is explicitly about how the notorious cloning and stem-cell fraud was revealed, though the names of the principals have been changed.
Setting the Record Straightby Daniel CossinsThe ScientistOctober 1st, 2014Scientists are taking to social media to challenge weak research, share replication attempts in real time, and counteract hype. Will this online discourse enrich the scientific process?
The Troubling Persistence of Eugenicist Thought in Modern America by Michael Brendan DoughertyThe WeekSeptember 30th, 2014We no longer talk of "unfit" children, but we'll still destroy them in the name of quality of life.
Should You Freeze Your Eggs?by Robin Marantz HenigSlateSeptember 30th, 2014An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
The Collapse of a Dangerous Analogy: Or, why mitochondria are much more than batteries by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 29th, 2014Amid a flood of new evidence that mitochondria impact an individual’s traits, the editors at New Scientist have made a “U-turn” on “three-parent babies.” Their new conclusion: “It’s more messy than we thought.”
Under the Skinby Nathaniel ComfortNatureSeptember 18th, 2014Three recent books focus on whether race is biological and therefore "real." But this question is a dead end, a distraction from what is really at stake in this debate: human social equality.
MacArthur Grant Sheds Light on Reproductive Technologies[References CGS]by Elayne CliftSentinel SourceSeptember 18th, 2014Thanks to a recent MacArthur Foundation grant to the Center for Genetics and Society and Our Bodies Ourselves, the information gap surrounding surrogacy and other assisted reproductive technologies will be addressed.
Drew Endy's Hollywood Dreams for Synthetic Biologyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 18th, 2014Stanford professor Drew Endy is convinced that this is the century of biology, and in particular of making things with biology, but is concerned that popular media do not seem to reflect this.
Shame and Scandal in the 23andMe Familyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 17th, 2014In response to its problems with the FDA and news about family traumas triggered by its tests' "close relatives" option, 23andMe is hiring new executives, including a Chief Privacy Officer.
The Stupidity of the “Smart Gene”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 17th, 2014Now that “one of the largest, most rigorous genetic studies of human cognition” has effectively turned up "nothing," can we finally put the notion of “smart genes” behind us?
“Evolution right now is in the marketplace”by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 11th, 2014George Church is as outrageous as ever, while both transhumanist ideas and concerns about increasing inequality are receiving more attention.
Monument Seeks to End Silence on Killings of the Disabled by the Nazisby Melissa EddyThe New York TimesSeptember 2nd, 2014Among the last to have their suffering publicly acknowledged, the mentally ill and intellectually disabled victims of direct medical killings by the Nazis now have their own memorial in the heart of Berlin.
Stem Cell Therapy Rogue Operators Charging Thousands for Useless or Dangerous Treatmentby Louise MilliganABCAugust 25th, 2014Rogue stem cell therapy operators are charging tens of thousands of dollars for treatments that are ineffectual or could even lead to more health problems and death, according to Australia's leading group of stem cell scientists.
From “the Dangerous Womb” to a More Complex Realityby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesAugust 21st, 2014Heightened attention to epigenetics, while important, also carries the danger of being used to place undue blame on pregnant women. A special issue in Science on parenting provides a more complex overview of parental and societal influence.
Microbiology: Microbiome Science Needs a Healthy Dose of Scepticismby William P. HanageNatureAugust 20th, 2014To guard against hype, those interpreting research on the body's microscopic communities should ask five questions.
Moving on from Nicholas Wade to Continuing Concerns about Scientific Racismby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 14th, 2014Over 140 geneticists publicly criticized Nicholas Wade for distorting their work; but that is unlikely to stop such abuse permanently, and many issues still deserve airing.
Society: Don't Blame the Mothersby Sarah S. Richardson, Cynthia R. Daniels, Matthew W. Gillman, Janet Golden, Rebecca Kukla, Christopher Kuzawa & Janet Rich-EdwardsNatureAugust 13th, 2014There is a long history of blaming mothers for the ill health of their children. The latest wave in this discussion flows from studies of epigenetics.
Over-Optimistic Portrayal of Life-Supporting Treatments in Newspapers and Internetby Thaddeus PopeMedical Futility BlogAugust 9th, 2014Newspapers and the Internet have the potential to influence patients' knowledge and attitudes toward medical decision-making by providing over-optimistic medical information.
Data Yearning to Become Expensive Informationby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 6th, 2014Big players have big “big data and genetics” plans afoot. Here’s the news from Genomics England, 23andMe, Google and Craig Venter.
Making Sense of the BRAINby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJuly 24th, 2014As criticisms of the brain projects on both sides of the Atlantic ramp up, what lessons can be learned from the successes and failures of the Human Genome Project?
The Perfect 46: A “Science Factual” Film about our Near Futureby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2014A new science fiction film called “a sort of prequel to Gattaca” highlights the rise and fall of a genetic startup that analyzes people’s genomes to assess their ability to produce disease-free children.
Cross-Border Surrogacy: Media Spotlight, EU Court Decision, International Forumby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2014What happens when people flout their own countries’ laws by going abroad to hire a surrogate in one of the few jurisdictions that allow it?
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.
On Meta-Research and the STAP Fiascoby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 7th, 2014The authors of the ballyhooed STAP papers have reluctantly agreed to retract them; meanwhile Stanford is launching a project to investigate the process of research.
Wading into Racismby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 6th, 2014A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History has been out for a month, and the fuss, such as it was, seems to be dying down, but the underlying issues remain significant.
"Three-Person IVF" Update Reveals How Little We Knowby Jessica CussinsThe Huffington PostJune 5th, 2014The UK fertility regulator has been saying the techniques are "not unsafe" for three years now. This should not be interpreted to mean that they are in fact safe.
Biotech Industry Cooks up PR Plans to Get us to Swallow Synthetic Biology Foodby Dana PerlsFood and Technology BlogMay 22nd, 2014Friends of the Earth exposes what was supposed to be a closed door and off-the-record industry meeting of some of the most powerful agribusiness, food and synthetic biology companies in the world.
Scientists Hoping to Ease Interpretation of the DNA ‘Book of Life’by Carolyn Y. JohnsonThe Boston GlobeMay 19th, 2014The public tends to see DNA as holding almost-mystical power, but in reality, interpreting a healthy person’s DNA with the current tools and understanding of human genetics is tricky.
Government Cracks Down on Fake DNA-Based Medicineby Eric Hal SchwartzIn The CapitalMay 13th, 2014The Federal Trade Commission has taken the first steps to quashing the 21st century snake-oil salesmen of direct-to-consumer genetic testing in a settlement finalized Tuesday.
Your Genes Are Obsoleteby Michael WhitePacific StandardMay 2nd, 2014Giving a physical meaning to the concept of a gene was a triumph of 20th-century biology, but as it turns out, this scientific success hasn’t solved the problems we hoped it would.
Transcendence: See it for its Cultural Relevance, Not its Plot Lineby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 1st, 2014Transcendence won’t win you over with its dialogue or love scenes, but it’s a great springboard for pondering what quickly approaching developments in artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and regenerative medicine may actually mean for society.
Science’s Shameful Secretby Victoria ParsonsMediumApril 28th, 2014Scientific research drives society forwards. We pay for it with our taxes and it is the gateway for our tomorrows, but there are problems at every step in the way science verifies itself.
Data Murky on Fertility Ratesby Hannah SeligsonThe New York TimesApril 28th, 2014Here’s the question on the minds of people who spend tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments: What are my chances of having a healthy baby? As it turns out, it’s not easy to tell.
Science Media Centre Spins Pro-GMO Lineby Rebekah WilcePR WatchApril 28th, 2014Though the Science Media Centre calls itself an independent media briefing center, many question its independence from GMO corporations. Now it's headed to the United States.
Why it’s Time to Ditch the Word ‘Revolution’ in Techby Alice BellBBCApril 28th, 2014If there is an idea associated with technology that needs to be ditched, it's that we are, or will be, witnessing a ‘revolution’.
DNA Day Hypeby Nathaniel ComfortGenotopiaApril 25th, 2014To celebrate DNA Day, the genetic testing company 23andMe posted a DNA Day infographic that is a marvelous inadvertent evidence of genetic oversell.
How Long Is Immortality?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 15th, 2014A Russian millionaire created a big splash less than a year ago when he sponsored a conference at the Lincoln Center about mind uploading and immortality, but seems to have fallen off the media radar, at least in the U.S.
Stop Calling Science a ‘Frontier’ by Leah CeccarelliThe Seattle TimesApril 6th, 2014The notion of a special relationship between Americans and a metaphorical “frontier of science” is troubling because of the historical baggage it subtly imprints on its listeners.
Gene of the Week: Entrepreneurship (again)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 2nd, 2014Scientists keep trying, and failing, to find the gene for starting a business.
‘Stem Cell Tourism’ Takes Advantage of Patients, Says Law Professorby David TenenbaumUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison NewsMarch 24th, 2014Desperate patients are easy prey for unscrupulous clinics offering untested and risky stem cell treatments.
Opinion: Women Don't Need Any More Big Liesby Tanya SelvaratnamCNNFebruary 8th, 2014In The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock, I explore many Big Lies. One is that women can delay motherhood until we're ready and rely on science to make it happen for us.
The $1,000 Genome: Game Changer or PR Stunt?by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesFebruary 6th, 2014The DNA sequencing company Illumina announced a new product capable of sequencing an entire human genome for under $1,000. What are the hidden costs? What are the implications of reaching this long-awaited benchmark?
Why the Promise of Cheap Fuel from Super Bugs Fell Shortby Martin LaMonicaMIT Technology ReviewFebruary 5th, 2014The sell-off of synthetic biology pioneer LS9 goes to show that making biofuels from genetically engineered microbes has yet to deliver economically.
Review: The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock by Amy Richards, Biopolitical Times guest contributorFebruary 4th, 2014A generational wake-up call directed to those raised to think that medical breakthroughs are always in humanity’s best interest.
Genetic Determinism: Why we Never Learn — And Why it Mattersby Nathaniel ComfortGenotopiaJanuary 29th, 2014Studying the history of genetics and popularization has led me to the surprising conclusion that genetic oversell is independent of genetic knowledge. We see the same sorts of articles in 2014 as we saw in 1914.
How FDA and 23andMe Dance Around Evidence That Is Not Thereby Cecile JanssensHuffington PostJanuary 27th, 2014Almost all former direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies have closed up shop. In the wake of criticism from all sides will 23andMe be next?
Editorial: Don’t rush to rehabilitate HwangNatureJanuary 21st, 2014Nature’s profile of a former fraudster’s attempts to regain respectability should not be taken as an endorsement of the researcher’s claims.
Cloning Fraudster Profiled by Big Science Journalsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 19th, 2014Korean stem-cell fraudster Hwang Woo-suk has been busy trying to rehabilitate his reputation and collaborating with the Chinese genomic powerhouse BGI.
The UK's Deplorable Witch Hunt Against Asian Women by Marge BererRH Reality CheckJanuary 16th, 2014Since The Telegraph's sex-selective abortion sting last year, there's been a witch hunt against abortion providers that is now threatening to become the equivalent of stop-and-search against Asian women.
Claims of Stem Cell Cures by Clinic Chain, Stem.MDby Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogJanuary 6th, 2014One of the most concerning new trends in the stem cell arena is the explosive growth of chains of for-profit stem cell clinics in the US.
The Truth About Egg Donationby Jen DziuraThe GlossJanuary 3rd, 2014A former egg donor reflects on her experiences: the drugs, risks, money, and feelings.
Dumbest Stem Cell Headlines & Stories of 2013by Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogDecember 23rd, 2013Reading these, one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Top Science Longreads of 2013by Ed YongNational GeographicDecember 23rd, 2013I’m really optimistic about the future for long, deep, rich science reporting. There are more places that are publishing it, more ways of finding it, and a seemingly huge cadre of people who are writing it well.
New Ways to Engineer the Germlineby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2013A look at a number of emerging techniques that could compromise the international consensus against human inheritable genetic modification.
Selling Tests, Selling Treatments: A Few Reflections on Medical Advertisingby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorDecember 18th, 2013The questions raised by the recent New York Times article about aggressive selling of ADD drugs should also be posed to those marketing non-invasive prenatal gene tests.
Similar But Not Identical: Study Reveals More About Twins Than About Educationby Steve ConnorIndependentDecember 13th, 2013The headlines this week about a new study of the role of genetics in educational achievement told only part of the story.
Techno-Libertarians and The Circleby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 5th, 2013The new novel by Dave Eggers is a provocative romp and a missed opportunity that does, however, raise a lot of very interesting questions about Silicon Valley culture.
Crispr Goes Commercial by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 5th, 2013A new company, Editas Medicine, has been founded by the scientists who developed Crispr gene-editing technology, with backing from several major venture capital funds.
The Unregulated Sperm Industryby Rene AlmelingThe New York TimesNovember 30th, 2013The new movie “Delivery Man” stars a former sperm donor who finds out that he has more than 500 children. Is this a Hollywood exaggeration or a possible outcome? Truth is, no one knows.
‘Delivery Man’: 9 Sperm-Donation Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask by Eliana DocktermanTimeNovember 22nd, 2013With a new movie, MTV series, and book, sperm donation stories are pervading pop culture right now. Experts answer 9 questions about what's really going on.
The Mixed Legacy of the UK’s Departing Fertility Regulatorby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 20th, 2013The departing chair of the UK agency that regulates fertility treatments is criticizing aspects of the fertility industry, but still champions a form of inheritable human genetic modification.
Human Germline Hype Pings around the Globeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 20th, 2013Crispr gene-editing technology gets a publicity push from a failing British newspaper.
The IVF Data Warsby Miriam Zoll, Biopolitical Times guest contributorNovember 15th, 2013The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recently asserted that 60 percent of women who go through IVF end up with a baby, but this is a misleading figure for a number of reasons.
Puzzling Institute of Medicine Stem Cell Workshopby Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogNovember 13th, 2013The meeting title suggests, perhaps by accident, that there is a legitimate pathway to making unregulated therapies safe and effective. There isn't.
Synthetic Biology: Scientific Advances Outstrip Policy Discourseby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 7th, 2013Synthetic biology has been attracting general mainstream attention recently, not necessarily reflecting the latest scientific advances, which seem not to be engaging policymakers to the extent they should.
The Future of the California Stem Cell Agency: Cures, Priorities and Brain Drain by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportNovember 3rd, 2013The California stem cell agency is nearing the end of its “normal” life span, and the topic of its future comes up with some regularity nowadays within the Golden State's stem cell community.
‘Ethical Failure’ Leaves One-Quarter of all Clinical Trials Unpublishedby Daniel CresseyNature News BlogOctober 29th, 2013Hundreds of thousands of patients have been exposed to potential harm in clinical trials whose results have yet to be published since their completion nearly five years ago.
Science has Lost its Way, at a Big Cost to Humanityby Michael HiltzikLos Angeles TimesOctober 27th, 2013Scientists at the biotech firm Amgen set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology. Of the 53, only six could be proved valid.
Genetics’ Rite of Passageby David DobbsSlateOctober 27th, 2013Geneticists with any historical memory hold a painful awareness that their field has fallen short of the glory that once seemed close.
Review: Genetic Explanations: Sense and Nonsenseby Evan CharneyLogosOctober 24th, 2013This timely and important collection brings together prominent geneticists, biologists, medical researchers, psychologists, philosophers, and historians to engage in “debunking as positive science.”
Science History Rap Battle: Franklin vs Watson & Crickby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 23rd, 2013Seventh-grade students in Oakland, California have put together a fabulous rap about Rosalind Franklin's role in the discovery of the double helix.
An Insider’s Antidote for Dangerous Stem Cell Hypeby Bernadette TanseyXconomyOctober 22nd, 2013Paul Knoepfler’s new book is a scientific primer and a paean to the promise of stem cell research, but also a warning to vulnerable patients who prematurely look to stem cell therapy as a last-ditch hope for a cure.
How Science Goes WrongThe EconomistOctober 19th, 2013Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying — to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.
School Achievement Isn't Just in Your Genesby Steven RoseNew ScientistOctober 18th, 2013Anyone who asserts that educational attainment is in large part inherited needs a lesson in modern genetics, says a professor of biology.
The Killing Pointby Leigh CowartNSFWCorpOctober 16th, 2013Malcolm Gladwell cherry-picks his way through the complicated fields of physiology, genetics, and sport to frame an argument on performance-enhancing drugs that is not only ill-informed, it’s downright dangerous.
The Clone Named Dollyby Nicholas WadeThe New York TimesOctober 14th, 2013This week’s Retro Report video tells the story of Dolly the sheep. The Scottish scientists who created her recall the painstaking process of trying to get the experiment to work.
Canadian LGBTQ Families and Assisted Reproduction by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 9th, 2013A major series of news articles describes "the emerging world of gay parenthood and surrogacy" in Canada — and abroad.
My Problem with "Taboo" Behavioral Genetics? The Science Stinks!by John HorganScientific AmericanOctober 4th, 2013Last spring, I kicked up a kerfuffle by proposing that research on race and intelligence, given its potential for exacerbating discrimination, should be banned. Now Nature has expanded this debate with "Taboo Genetics."
23andMe Says It's Not (Now) in the Designer Baby Businessby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 4th, 2013The direct-to-consumer genetic testing company was awarded a patent for "gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations," but now says it has no intention of using the technology.
Google vs. Death? Really?by Pete ShanksHuffington PostOctober 3rd, 2013It's common for techies to be infatuated with transhumanism and other far-out ideas, but "solving death" seems like a real stretch.
The Damaging Language of “Cure” and Down Syndromeby Amy Julia BeckerPatheosOctober 2nd, 2013Once again we’re hearing news of a breakthrough in research on drug therapies to enhance the cognitive processing of people with Down syndrome. And once again, the discussions seem to fixate on the controversial notion of a “cure.”
Dangerous Workby EditorialNatureOctober 2nd, 2013Behavioural geneticists must tread carefully to prevent their research being misinterpreted.
Scientists Warn Against “Three-Parent IVF” Experimentby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 25th, 2013Three evolutionary biologists enumerate a number of scientific studies and methodological shortcomings that have been overlooked in the debate on mitochondrial replacement. Their study has elicited numerous defensive responses, despite bringing important details to bear.
Google vs Death? Really?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 20th, 2013Google just announced a new company, Calico, that will focus on aging and associated diseases. Former Genentech CEO Art Levinson will be in charge, but so far it has no other employees and no clear business plan.
Science: The Religion that Must Not be Questionedby Henry GeeThe GuardianSeptember 19th, 2013It's time for the priesthood to be taken to task – and journalists aren't up to the job.
Still Chasing Ghosts: A New Genetic Methodology Will Not Find the “Missing Heritability”by Evan CharneyIndependent Science NewsSeptember 19th, 2013One of the hopes and promises of the Human Genome Sequencing Project was that it would uncover the supposed “genetic bases” of human behavior. With a few exceptions, however, this search has borne little fruit.
Don’t Use India’s Missing Girls to Deny Women Reproductive Rightsby Mallika DuttRH Reality CheckSeptember 16th, 2013The attention to son preference by the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee should be cause for celebration, but the people shaking their fists the hardest about the issue are actually those who are most hostile to women’s rights.
"Me medicine" could undermine public health measuresby Donna DickensonNew ScientistSeptember 16th, 2013The growth of personalised medicine threatens the communal approach that has brought our biggest health gains.
UC Davis Stem Cell Researcher Warns Consumers to Beware of Unproven or Dangerous Stem Cell Treatmentsby David JensenThe Sacramento BeeSeptember 15th, 2013Paul Knoepfler is a rare stem cell researcher who regularly explores the most problematic aspects of stem cell therapies on the Internet in full public gaze.
The Politics of Sex Selective Abortion Bans in the UK and the USby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 12th, 2013Recent publicity in the UK, and lawsuits and legislative hearings in the US, are a reminder that right-wing activists make cynical use of the sex selection issue to restrict women's reproductive rights.
Selling the Fantasy of Fertilityby Miriam Zoll and Pamela TsigdinosThe New York TimesSeptember 11th, 2013A trade show will showcase the latest inventions in the world of reproductive medicine with the suggestion that all your answers can be found within the event hall. But science fails far more often than is generally believed.
Stem Cell Treatments Overtake Scienceby Laura BeilThe New York TimesSeptember 9th, 2013The lack of proven safety or efficacy for stem cell treatments hasn't slowed the rise of an international industry catering to customers who may pay tens of thousands of dollars in cash for their shot at a personal miracle.
Eggs for Cash: Pitting Choice Against Riskby Diane Tober and Francine CoeytauxRH Reality CheckSeptember 4th, 2013The debate about a recent payment-for-eggs bill in California illustrates tensions among reproductive rights and justice advocates about what it means to be pro-woman.
California Controversy: Let's Not Expand the Market in Women's Eggsby Marcy Darnovsky and Susan Berke FogelHuffington PostSeptember 3rd, 2013California Governor Jerry Brown's veto of a bill that would have allowed researchers to pay women for having their eggs harvested was warmly welcomed by women's health and public interest groups.
Popular Fertility Treatments Still a Vast Experimentby Michele Goodwin and Judy NorsigianWeNewsSeptember 1st, 2013Americans are increasingly swarming to the doorsteps of fertility clinics, but many don't realize that evidence-based medicine has yet to establish a reasonable foothold.
US Behavioural Research Studies Skew Positiveby Erika Check HaydenNatureAugust 26th, 2013US behavioural researchers have been handed a dubious distinction — they are more likely than their colleagues in other parts of the world to exaggerate findings.
Stem Cells: What Happened to the Radical Breakthroughs?by Simon RoachThe GuardianAugust 10th, 2013Much was promised in the late 1990s, but advances such as growing whole human organs has been difficult to deliver.
23andMe, Myself, and Iby Nathaniel ComfortGenotopiaAugust 7th, 201323andMe's new ad will begin airing shortly on cable TV, and it's all about "me."
DTC Monopoly and Meby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesAugust 6th, 2013A recent study shows yet again that results from different direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies vary. So what will the emerging monopoly of 23andMe mean for accuracy?
Science as Social Control: Political Paralysis and the Genetics Agendaby Jonathan LathamIndependent Science NewsJuly 31st, 2013A new study in Science found that fully 98% of variation in “educational attainment” cannot be attributed to inherited genetic differences. Why did the authors fail to mention this fact in the title or in the summary?
uBiome: Ethical Lapse or Not?by Judy StoneScientific AmericanJuly 25th, 2013Skirting the rules hurts the company's image, fosters mistrust and, perhaps more importantly, may hurt the citizen science movement more broadly.
Don’t Market Stem-Cell Products Ahead of Proofby Paolo BiancoNatureJuly 17th, 2013The controversy over an unproven stem-cell therapy in Italy highlights the dangers of doing translational medicine in reverse.
Science Media: Centre of Attentionby Ewen CallawayNatureJuly 10th, 2013Does the Science Media Centre promote uncritical media coverage by serving as "science's PR agency"?
Illegal Sterilizations in Modern California Jailsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2013The Center for Investigative Reporting has published a detailed exposé of unauthorized sterilizations of unwilling women in California jails from 2006 to 2010, and probably before, bringing the issue to national attention.
Eight Misconceptions about “Three-Parent Babies”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJuly 9th, 2013Amid the talk about “mitochondria replacement” or “three-parent babies," here are the top misconceptions proliferating about the efficacy, safety, public support, and societal implications.
Reported IVF Success Rates can be Misleading: Studyby Genevra PittmanReutersJuly 4th, 2013US fertility centers are mandated to report the number of cycles they perform, but a new study suggests those data may give some practices misleadingly high success rates.
Egg Donation is Made to Look Easy, but Questions and Health Risks Remainby Ryann SummersOur Bodies Our BlogJuly 3rd, 2013When she was casually solicited for her eggs by a friend, the author realized she needed to know more about the procedure and its implications.
Push for Social Egg Freezing: By whom? For whom?by Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJuly 3rd, 2013The latest campaign in the IVF world - social egg freezing - has been sold as an equalizing reproductive option for women, but whose agenda is it really serving?
Facebook Grapples with Rules for Patients Seeking Organ Donorsby Kevin B. O’ReillyAmerican Medical NewsJuly 1st, 2013The social media site already has shown it can send the organ donation message in an unprecedented fashion. Now it’s trying to standardize the process.
Three Person IVFby Paula BoddingtonPractical EthicsJune 29th, 2013Unfortunately, this debate, like so many others in announcements of developing science and technology related to health in general and genetics in particular, is marred by hype and by urgency.
From Suspects to the Spitterati: A collision of power, profit, and privacyby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJune 27th, 2013DNA collection is increasingly ubiquitous, and the push for access to genetic information is gaining momentum. What questions should we be considering?
Public Invasion of Genetic Privacy For UK Royal Family?by Dr Philippa BricePHG FoundationJune 17th, 2013A front-page story based on DNA analysis of distant cousins reveals that Prince William and Prince Harry have Indian ancestry, raising ethical concerns about genetic privacy.
Reactions to the Supreme Court Ruling Against Myriadby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 13th, 2013The unanimous Supreme Court decision that human genes may not be patented was greeted with enthusiasm by the large coalition of plaintiffs and supporters, while the losers tried to put a brave face on it.
The Campaign Kickstarter Shouldn't Be Fundingby L. Jim ThomasThe Huffington PostJune 6th, 2013Kickstarter is set to hand hundreds of thousands of dollars to a controversial project for the widespread and unregulated distribution of over half a million extreme-bioengineered seeds.
Welcome to the “Genetic Panopticon”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJune 5th, 2013In a forceful blow to the Fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that police can collect DNA from people who have been arrested – but who have not been convicted, and may never be.
What Clinical Geneticists Think About DTC Genetic Testingby Dr Philippa BricePHG FoundationMay 31st, 2013A survey of over 100 European clinical geneticists reveals general opposition to the way in which direct-to-consumer genetic testing is delivered by commercial providers.
Motherhood Deferred: Freezing Your Eggs[With CGS's Diane Tober]by Judy CampbellKQED ForumMay 31st, 2013What are the benefits and risks of freezing eggs? A discussion with CGS's Associate Executive Director, a journalist, and a reproductive endocrinologist.
Quest for 'Genius Babies'?by Colleen FlahertyInside Higher EdMay 29th, 2013Controversy about a cognitive genomics project raises concerns that a new generation of eugenicists may be coming of age.
Cancer Inc.by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 28th, 2013Angelina Jolie’s widely discussed op-ed about her preventative double mastectomy glosses over the impact of one company’s patent on the “breast cancer genes” as well as alternative choices that are available to women who have mastectomies.
Don’t Freeze Your Eggs Quite Yetby Miriam ZollSlateMay 24th, 2013There is no research to support the notion that women who are older than thirty will have any success with freezing their eggs.
Angelina Jolie and the One Percentby Gayle SulikScientific AmericanMay 20th, 2013Jolie's revelation has sparked a flurry of useful discussion, but we should remember an important caveat about her situation: it doesn’t apply to most women.
Angelina Jolie, Breast Cancer, and You: How to Make the Right Decisions for YOUR Healthby Judy NorsigianOur Bodies Our BlogMay 17th, 2013It is now up to women’s health advocates to ensure that media coverage and public debate don't offer false information or false hope.
Human Stem Cell Cloning: 'Holy Grail' or Techno-Fantasy?by David KingCNNMay 17th, 2013We are told that there will be great medical benefits and that the risks that there will be cloned babies are small, but in truth it's the other way round.
Cloning-Derived Stem Cells Raise Policy Questionsby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 16th, 2013Yesterday’s announcement that stem cells have been derived from cloned human embryos set off a media flurry, but important questions about reproductive cloning and women’s health were not widely addressed.
A Note of Caution: Freezing Eggs Is Not a Silver Bullet for Age-Related Infertilityby Miriam ZollRH Reality CheckMay 15th, 2013A $4 billion industry is driving public discourse about often unproven discoveries through a lens that focuses attention on the minority of successes rather than the whole messy, complicated story.
Angelina Jolie and the Fate of Breast Cancer Genes[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Alexandra Le TellierLos Angeles TimesMay 14th, 2013Angelina Jolie described her double mastectomy as a way to gain control over mutations in her "breast cancer genes," but how much control we have over BRCA1 and BRCA2, and human genes in general, is yet to be determined.
There's More to Life Than Freezing Your Eggs[Quotes CGS's Diane Tober]by Jacoba UristThe AtlanticMay 14th, 2013Suddenly, it seems, everyone is singing the praises of egg freezing as the latest cure for a woman's declining fertility, but it isn't quite the panacea the media would have you believe.
Talking Biopolitics is Back!by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 13th, 2013A series of live web-based conversations with cutting-edge thinkers on the social meaning of human biotechnologies will be kicking off next week. RSVP now to join the conversations!
The Big Freezeby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorBiopolitical TimesMay 9th, 2013The Wall Street Journal devoted almost two full pages to a piece championing social egg freezing, and gave it a headline that is pure sales.
A Petition for Change in Memory of Dan Markingsonby Emily Smith BeitiksBiopolitical TimesMay 8th, 2013The story of a young man’s premature death illustrates the medical-industrial complex at its worst.
Sixty Years of a DNA World Viewby Sujatha ByravanThe HinduMay 6th, 2013The popular notion of the double helix being the main and the only player in cellular and genetic information is quite flawed.
Made-to-Order Embryos: You Want to Sell What?!by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 2nd, 2013The fact that a fertility clinic can own and sell made-to-order embryos for profit raises novel concerns that should not be collapsed into predefined frameworks used to assess other assisted reproductive technologies.
“World's First GM Babies Born”: 12-Year-Old Article Continues to Cause Confusionby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 25th, 2013An undated Daily Mail article that is actually over a decade old continues to spread misinformation about human genetic modification.
The Baby Blueprint [VIDEO][With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]Al Jazeera EnglishApril 22nd, 2013Would you choose your child's genetic potential? Live debate with Marcy Darnovsky, Stuart Newman, Julian Savulescu, and Nita Farahany.
Synthetic Biology as Public Relationsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 17th, 2013Recent synthetic biology projects related to malaria, flu and conservation are providing PR cover for the field and its corporate sponsors.
Egg Freezing: WTF?*[Op-Ed]by Lynn M. Morgan and Janelle S. TaylorThe Feminist WireApril 14th, 2013Egg freezing is invasive, dangerous, unregulated, and insanely expensive. Worse, it isn’t a social solution, so it cannot address the social causes that make it so difficult to balance career and family.
The Right to Speak Out[Editorial]NatureApril 9th, 2013Controversy over the results touted by a genetic-ancestry firm has highlighted the need for reform of the United Kingdom’s restrictive libel law.
Are Parents Entitled To Create A Dream Child? [VIDEO][With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]HuffPost LiveMarch 29th, 2013What if science allowed prospective parents to create smarter and healthier babies? This idea is just as exciting as it is alarming, but is it realistic? Should it be?
The Era of Genetics-Based Advertising is Comingby Daniela HernandezWiredMarch 28th, 2013If you thought personalised advertising based on your Facebook status updates, Gmail content or online browsing behaviour was creepy, just you wait. The era of genetics-based advertising is coming, and it could be just as profitable.
GM Crops Evil, GM Children OK?by Chris BennettWestern Farm PressMarch 27th, 2013China is surging ahead with a research project aimed at identifying millions of genetic variations in order to boost intelligence.
HeLa Publication Brews Bioethical Stormby Ewen CallawayNatureMarch 27th, 2013The genome of the controversial cell line is no longer public, but another sequence is in the works.
Stem-Cell Ruling Riles Researchersby Alison AbbottNatureMarch 26th, 2013The Italian health minister’s support for an unproven stem cell treatment appalls the country’s scientists.
Beyond Tokenistic Inclusion: Science, Citizenship, and Changing the Questions by Ruha BenjaminHuffington PostMarch 25th, 2013The scientific community prides itself on free and open inquiry, and yet when it comes to raising questions about the social and political implications of our work, a peculiar form of self-censorship seems to be at work.
Online Petition Seeks Justice on Behalf of Dan Markingsonby Emily Smith BeitiksBiopolitcal TimesMarch 25th, 2013Dan Markingson's binding enrollment in a clinical drug trial led him to commit suicide just six months in; a close friend has initiated a petition asking the Minnesota governor to investigate.
The Ultimate Easter Egg Hunt: ‘Ivy League Couple’ Seeks Donor With ‘Highest Scores’by Melinda HennebergerThe Washington PostMarch 21st, 2013Advertisements seeking "perfect" egg donors and promising hefty sums of cash proliferate on college campuses; the medical risks are much harder to unearth.
Racial Differences in Allergy Rates: Genes or Environment?by Diane ToberBiopolical TimesMarch 21st, 2013Popular news outlets too often depict inconclusive research as fact, and this tendency seems particularly strong when the topic is related to race and genetics.
Broad Public Support for "3-Parent Babies" and Crossing the Human Germline? Not What the Data Sayby Jessica Cussins & Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 21st, 2013The UK regulatory agency’s summary of its public consultation on mitochondria replacement highlights "broad public support" for a procedure that would cross a crucial ethical and policy line. But that support is not actually demonstrated in its data.
Fixing Psychiatric Research At A University[Op-Ed]by Ed SilvermanPharmalotMarch 20th, 2013University of Minnesota bioethicist Carl Elliott has explored a controversial episode over a clinical trial and a suicide at his own university over the past few years; he explains why now is the time to get involved.
HealthWatch: Britain Considers Allowing Babies From 3 Parents [Video][With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Kim MulvihillCBS San FranciscoMarch 20th, 2013Britain's fertility regulator says it has found broad public support for in vitro fertilization techniques that allow babies to be created with DNA from three people for couples at risk of passing on potentially fatal genetic diseases.
Three-Person IVF Moves Closer in UKby James GallagherBBC NewsMarch 20th, 2013The UK has moved closer to becoming the first country to allow the creation of babies from three people.
The Narcissism of De-Extinctionby Hannah WatersScientific AmericanMarch 15th, 2013If people had the ability to resurrect extinct species and reintroduce them to the wild, should we direct our energy and resources towards it?
Cloning All Over Again: Reviving the Idea of Re-creating Speciesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 7th, 2013An environmentalist-turned-techno-enthusiast, a synthetic biology champion, and a cloning expert are teaming up to promote what they call "de-extinction."
GM Babies?by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMarch 5th, 2013A debate about genetically engineered babies is hijacked by slick rhetoric.
Synthetic Biology Comes Down to Earthby Paul VoosenThe Chronicle of Higher EducationMarch 4th, 2013Practitioners of synthetic biology made big promises and investors poured in the money, but most companies have made grinding progress, not breakthroughs.
Guidelines for Genetic Testing of Childrenby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 28th, 2013A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Medical Genetics discusses when doctors should suggest a genetic test for a child.
Selling the Story: Down Syndrome, Fetal Gene Testing, and The Today Showby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorBiopolitical TimesFebruary 28th, 2013On The Today Show, a couple learns the results of a noninvasive prenatal test. Left unanswered are questions about the effects of new technologies, and how those technologies are sold.
To Claim Someone has 'Viking Ancestors' is no Better than Astrologyby Mark ThomasThe Guardian February 25th, 2013The truth about direct-to-consumer ancestry tests is that there is little scientific substance to most of them and they are better thought of as genetic astrology.
White House Unveils Long-Awaited Public Access Policyby Jocelyn KaiserScience InsiderFebruary 22nd, 2013In a victory for open access advocates, the White House science office will require that science agencies make federally funded papers freely available online within 12 months after the results appear in a journal.
Race as Biology in The New York Times by Diane ToberBiopolitical TimesFebruary 21st, 2013A prominent science writer’s troubling choice of words about “race” suggest that it is biological reality rather than social category.
Al Gore: Human Biotech is a “Driver of Global Change”by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesFebruary 21st, 2013In his recently released best-seller The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, Al Gore calls for protocols to guide decisions about human genetic modification.
Gene-ism and the Trout in the Milkby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 19th, 2013The remains of King Richard III were not really identified by DNA, but that was what the headlines said.
How Soon Is Now? Prenatal Tests Racing from Theory to Practice by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 5th, 2013The rapid development and deployment of non-invasive prenatal genetic tests may be outstripping the ability of society to respond to them.
Neo Neanderthal[With CGS's Pete Shanks]by Alyona MinkovskiHuffPost LiveJanuary 25th, 2013A leading geneticist at Harvard Medical School says he can clone a Neanderthal and resurrect the extinct species. What are the ethical issues, risks and benefits?
Neanderthal Cloning Comments Spark Controversy in Scientific Community[Quotes CGS's Pete Shanks]by Jason KoeblerUS NewsJanuary 25th, 2013The suggestion that scientists would need a "cohort" of Neanderthals is "irresponsible speculation."
George Church on Neanderthal Clones and Designer Babies by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 23rd, 2013George Church now says that he doesn't advocate cloning a Neanderthal with a human surrogate. Here's some context.
Gene-ism and Mass Murderby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2013Proposals to analyze the genes of a mass murderer have rightly drawn criticism from experts, including the editors of Nature.
A Dangerous Game: Some Athletes Risk Untested Stem Cell Treatments by Deborah FranklinScientific AmericanJanuary 16th, 2013Some professional athletes' enthusiasm for certain stem cell treatments outpaces the evidence.
A Rebuttal to Mark Lynas’ GMO Reversalby Jason MarkEarth Island JournalJanuary 11th, 2013Organic farmer, writer, and environmental policy advocate delves into Lynas' rationale for turning pro-GMO and finds scientific, environmental, economic, and social reasons not to agree.
Sex Selection and Violence Against Women: Global Challengesby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJanuary 10th, 2013As important as it is to understand the differences across the globe, it is also crucial to consider – and to confront – the similarities and interlocking dynamics.
Stem Cell Showdown: Celltex vs. the FDAby Susan BerfieldBloomberg BusinessweekJanuary 3rd, 2013The FDA has approved only one stem cell product and wrote a scathing report on Celltex, the Texan company that nonetheless continues to offer its controversial services.
Desperate Patients Seek Stem-Cell 'Miracle,' but Scientists Warn of Hidden Dangersby Marcia Heroux PoundsSun SentinelJanuary 3rd, 2013The recent World Stem Cell Summit pointed to reports of deaths, tumors, lumbar punctures and other potential harm, as well as vulnerable people being conned out of thousands of dollars.
Biotech's 10 Biggest PR Disasters of 2012GMWatchDecember 31st, 20122012 was the year the lights came up on the biotech industry. Its claims, its tactics and its products all came under scrutiny and some of its biggest PR fairytales bit the dust. Here are some prime examples.
My Concerns About Nature Paper on Genome Transfer for Mitochondrial Diseaseby Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogDecember 20th, 2012Is this paper really a clinically relevant breakthrough for mitochondrial disease worthy of a Nature paper?
DNA Ancestry Testing: What Can it Say about Native American Identity?by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesDecember 20th, 2012The question of who belongs to what Native American tribe is rife with political, social, and legal implications. Do DNA ancestry tests provide answers or add another layer of misunderstanding?
Genes, Cells and Brains by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose - Reviewby Steven PooleThe Guardian (UK)December 19th, 2012A fascinating, lucid and angry book; a strong exposé of the hype surrounding genetics and neuroscience.
Public Expectations and Reality of Stem Cell Therapies Translationby Alexey BersenevCell TrialsDecember 7th, 2012A just-published study indicates that public optimism about stem cell research and translation is largely unjustified and even delusional.
Fertility Clinics' Ad Regulation Falls Short, Report Says by Catherine PearsonThe Huffington PostDecember 6th, 2012There is too little oversight of how fertility clinics market themselves online, a new report charges, possibly misleading women about their chances of getting pregnant.
Mitochondria Replacement Would Forever Alter the Human Germline. Do You Want a Say? by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 15th, 2012The Center for Genetics and Society has sent a letter strongly recommending against changing the United Kingdom law that – like those in dozens of other countries – prohibits procedures that would alter the genes we pass on to our children.
Clones and Cloud Atlasby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 2012Of the many characters in Cloud Atlas that explore what it means to be human, the most eloquent is a genetically engineered clone.
Un-Mainstreaming Human Enhancementby Charles T. RubinThe New AtlantisNovember 7th, 2012Human enhancements may be hard to resist, but so are many things we avoid because the consequences are much worse than the reward.
Frozen Egg Banks – A “Paradigm Shift” for the Fertility Industry?by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 1st, 2012If egg freezing takes off, finding a future child’s genetic mother may feel a lot more like “catalog shopping.”
Money Doesn't Talk, It Liesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 1st, 2012California's Proposition 37, which would require labeling of genetically modified food, is being battered by a million dollars a day of deceptive commercials, but the race is roughly tied.
Advocating Human Germline Interventionsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 28th, 2012Scientists in Oregon have published a paper that explicitly challenges the legal and procedural system that forbids genetic experiments on future generations, but most reports miss the full implications of the announcement.
Freezing Human Eggs for In Vitro Fertilization No Longer Experimental Procedure[with CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Margaret WarnerPBS NewshourOctober 19th, 2012Two differing views on the medical and ethical implications of freezing eggs for infertility treatment.
Bill McKibben on Real Time With Bill Maherby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesOctober 18th, 2012Bill McKibben discusses the radical implications of climate change and the troubling proposal made by some to "alter [human] behavior and physiology" to deal with these changes.
Anatomy of a Webpage, Part 2: Preconception Servicesby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorOctober 17th, 2012People living with genetic diseases become medicalized abstractions of risk and defect in the slick marketing of fetal gene tests. More than a matter of semantics, such simplification has negative consequences for all.
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