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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.



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. HanageNature CommentAugust 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-EdwardsNature CommentAugust 13th, 2014There is a long history of society 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.
Stem-Cell Fraud Hits Febrile Fieldby David CyranoskiNatureOctober 16th, 2012As Hisashi Moriguchi's heart-treatment claims collapse, observers warn about the febrile nature of the iPS-cell field and caution against a rush to the clinic.
The HealerHow Shinya Yamanaka Transformed the Stem-Cell War and Made Everyone a Winnerby William SaletanSlateOctober 9th, 2012Shinya Yamanaka's research on "induced pluripotent stem cells" earned him a Nobel Prize. But much of the media coverage missed half the story. Yamanaka’s venture wasn’t just an experiment. It was a moral project.
Proposed New Gene Manipulation Technique in IVF: Is it Safe? Needed? A Precedent to Designer Babies?by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesOctober 2nd, 2012Is a new “3-parent baby” fertility technique a way to avoid terrible disease, or a dangerous form of human experimentation?
'Single Gene May Hold Key to Life Itself'by Nathaniel ComfortHuffington PostSeptember 23rd, 2012"Gene for..." headlines may be a symptom of, or catalyst for, Americans' infatuation with controlling life.
California and the Fourth Amendment[Editorial]The New York TimesSeptember 18th, 2012The New York Times editorializes on California's law requiring police to take DNA samples from people arrested but not yet convicted of felonies: "It is unconstitutional."
Feel-Good Surrogacy?: The New Normal Tackles ARTs with Lighthearted Banterby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 17th, 2012The New Normal showcases a lighthearted vision of surrogacy and gay parenthood that has moving moments, but largely misses the mark.
Most of What you Read was Wrong: How Press Releases Rewrote Scientific Historyby John TimmerARS TechnicaSeptember 10th, 2012ENCODE's definition of "functional" leads to misleading media coverage of the role of junk DNA.
Yet Another Study Claims to Find Politics in Our Genes by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 6th, 2012A study on genes and political identity comes out just in time for the presidential election, but says little that’s new.
New Ice Age for Wellbeingby Rachel BrowneThe Sydney Morning HeraldAugust 5th, 2012A number of Australian IVF clinics tout egg freezing and storage for healthy women in their 30s who want a baby but are not yet ready to conceive.
Life: Digital and Synthetic?by Daniel SharpBiopolitical TimesJuly 20th, 2012As Craig Venter unveils his newest plan to create life from scratch, questions about what this means and the consequences of doing so abound. What is life? A strange – perhaps obtuse – question. But the answer has profound consequences for how we as a society come to grips with novel biotechnologies.
Ethics Schmethics Says Ethicistby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 19th, 2012The approach of the Olympics sparks the usual flood of pro-enhancement articles, notably an interview with Julian Savulescu.
"Tainted Families" Ancient and Modernby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 11th, 2012Paul Lombardo has well summarized the use of the "Jukes family" myth to promote eugenics, in the 19th, 20th and now 21st century.
Survival of the Fastest?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2012Michael Johnson, the legendary athlete, recently made global headlines for suggesting that black American and Caribbean sprinters have a "superior athletic gene."
DNA Sells! (But don't give people ideas) by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 26th, 2012Madonna, the maven of media manipulation, deftly harvests headlines by denying fans her DNA.
Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Destroy the Worldby Daniel SharpBiopolitical TimesJune 22nd, 2012A recent article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine hypes Craig Venter and synthetic biology as green solutions to the world’s woes. The real story is what the article missed.
Designer Babies in Popular Cultureby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJune 21st, 2012The Whitest Kids U’Know’s comedic parody of genetic counseling is reminiscent of a similar scene in GATTACA.
Baby Contest: Couples Compete for Free IVF — Is This Exploitation or Generosity? by Bonnie RochmanTIME HealthlandJune 19th, 2012The Sher Fertility Institute selected 3 couples out of 45 who submitted emotionally wrenching videos in order to win a free IVF cycle. For one judge, choosing her favorites felt like "playing God."
Let's Get Real on Synthetic Biology by Claire Marris and Nikolas RoseNewScientist.comJune 11th, 2012As the race to build life from scratch pushes on, hyperbole drowns out nuanced discussion. We need more wide-ranging dialogue.
Human Genetics Commission Publish Final Reportby Rebecca HillBioNewsJune 7th, 2012The Human Genetics Commission has published its final report, which marks the end of its 12 years as an advisory body to the Government.
Bay Area Artist Looks to Biopolitical Issues for Inspirationby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJune 7th, 2012Bay Area artist Doug Minkler addresses concerns about synthetic biology and the corporatization of scientific research in his socially conscious posters.
German Doctors Apologize for Holocaust Horrorsby Art CaplanMSNBCMay 24th, 2012The German Medical Association has issued a remarkably blunt and straightforward apology, more than six decades after the end of World War II, for the role it played during the Holocaust.
The Real Chen Guangcheng Story: Forced Abortion, Eugenics, and the One-Child Policyby Daniel SharpBiopolitical TimesMay 16th, 2012Amidst focus on the domestic and international political aspects of the Chen Guangcheng affair, the media have missed the real issue: forced abortion and forced sterilization in China.
This Time, It’s Personal: New Cystic Fibrosis Drug (with $294,000 Price Tag)by Daniel SharpBiopolitical TimesMay 15th, 2012A new drug to treat some people with cystic fibrosis holds promise, but raises questions about the accessibility of "personalized" treatments.
Artificial DNA Presents Real Dangersby Daniel SharpBiopolitical TimesMay 2nd, 2012The creation of “artificial DNA” has generated substantial media buzz. The untold story behind the hype is about the new risks synthetic biology presents.
Disturbing Reports of Government-led Forced Sterilization in Uzbekistanby Daniel SharpBiopolitical TimesMay 1st, 2012The BBC breaks news of a government-sponsored coercive sterilization campaign in Uzbekistan.
Mara Hvistendahl's Unnatural Selection Finalist for Pulitzer by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 26th, 2012Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men has been cited as one of the best books of 2011 by many publications, and has now been recognized by the Pulitzer Board as a finalist for the General Nonfiction award.
Gene of the Week: The Nice Geneby Daniel SharpBiopolitical TimesApril 19th, 2012Media outlets hype "nice gene" study and distort scientific nuance in this week's "gene of the week."
Genetic April Foolery on NPR and in The Economistby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesApril 5th, 2012The mainstream media is increasingly getting into the April Fools game. This year featured at least two established news organizations suddenly finding a sense of humor and using genetic technologies to, at least for one day, betray their loyal readers’ trust.
A Burst of Useful (Not Utilitarian) Bloggingby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 22nd, 2012Bioethicists' articles about the permissibility of infanticide and a pill for racism have been drawing a buzz of outrage.
Writing Your Baby’s Synthetic Genome: Genetic Engineering for the Facebook Generationby Daniel SharpBiopolitical TimesMarch 22nd, 2012A growing chorus of synthetic biology advocates is promoting using the new tools for "enhancing" future generations.
Celltex Muscles Ethics Professor For Contacting FDAby Ed Silverman PharmalotMarch 12th, 2012Leigh Turner a bioethics professor from University of Minnesota, has been accused of spreading false information about Celltex Therapeutics in a letter he wrote to the FDA.
Gene of the Week — Not!by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 5th, 2012A pair of political scientists who specialize in behavioral genetics demolish a paper for claiming that "two genes predict political voter turnout" and then draw much broader conclusions about the failures of reductionist genomics.
Stem Cell Fraud Is the Real Issue in Texasby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 2nd, 2012Bioethicist Glenn McGee has resigned from Celltex. His connection with the controversial stem-cell company has raised important issues about its business practices.
Assisted Reproduction Technologies Hit Prime Time by Emily BeitiksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 23rd, 2012This month’s episodes of Glee and Modern Family – two of the most popular prime time television shows – featured central characters contemplating assisted reproductive technologies.
Worrying New Signs of Interest in Re-engineering Humansby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 23rd, 2012Several academics and defense department employees are actively discussing the idea of engineering people, for warfare, to express social values and even to react to climate change.
How a Genetically Engineered Super-Virus Spread – Through the Mediaby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJanuary 26th, 2012Controversy erupts over how much information about research on extraordinarily dangerous organisms should be made public. Many question whether the work should be done at all.
ACT Publishes First, Tentative Results of Embryonic Stem Cell Trialby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 25th, 2012Advanced Cell Technology released very limited but mildly promising preliminary results of its clinical trial, and convinced some, though not all, reporters to hype it.
Dog Cloning Infomercial on TVby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 12th, 2012A soft-focus TV documentary downplayed the practical realities of dog cloning in favor of kooky-human dramas
60 Minutes Exposes Stem Cell Scams — Againby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 10th, 2012For the second time in two years, 60 Minutes exposes a stem-cell scam and stresses that these are not isolated instances.
Cloning vs. Conservation[Opinion]by John RennieSmart PlanetDecember 20th, 2011Cloning is a dangerous and misguided substitute for the preservation of biodiversity.
An Interesting Weekend on the Perils of Building Better Humansby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesDecember 15th, 2011Last weekend offered an interesting conversation on past and more modern attempts at building betters humans, which might ultimately say something interesting about our human future.
Free Rudy! The Cosby Show and the Genetics of ‘Eating Your Vegetables’by Osagie ObasogieDecember 1st, 2011Writing for the UK Guardian, Anna Perman offers an explanation for why some people love Brussels sprouts while others find them despicable.
Signs of Skepticism About DNA Forensicsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 1st, 2011Several recent editorials and other articles are expressing a more nuanced view of the issues involved in DNA forensic databases.
An IVF Groupon? by Osagie ObasogieNovember 10th, 2011Some practitioners have used Groupon for elective procedures such as cosmetic surgery and teeth whitening. But is this a model for reproductive medicine?
Hwang Clones Coyotes, Scores Headlinesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 19th, 2011Disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk continues his efforts at rehabilitation by cloning endangered coyotes.
What’s in a Number? 150+ Offspring from One Donorby Emily BeitiksBiopolitical TimesOctober 7th, 2011Large numbers of children born from one sperm donor raise troubling concerns, but there are bigger issues at stake that the numbers alone do not capture.
Kaufman on Scientists’ Complicity in Media Misrepresentations of the Relationship Between Race, Genetics, and Health Disparitiesby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesOctober 7th, 2011A McGill epidemiologist draws attention to what seems like a peculiar situation concerning science reporting on the relationship between race, genetics, and health disparities.
Celebrating Dorothy Roberts and Fatal Inventionby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesOctober 6th, 2011The Center for Genetics and Society co-sponsored two events celebrating Dorothy Roberts' new book, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century.
Celebrating Our Bodies Ourselvesby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesSeptember 29th, 2011A series of public events marks the 40th anniversary of Our Bodies Ourselves.
Turning 40, Going Globalby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorSeptember 28th, 2011Born in Boston, Our Bodies, Ourselves has become an international force for women's rights.
Scrambled Yeast: Breakthrough or Just More Hype?by Emily BeitiksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 15th, 2011The alluring notion that synthetic biology "breakthroughs" will soon enable us to rebuild genomes to desired phenotypic ends may be out of sync with the true state of our knowledge.
Sperm Donor Siblings: Family Trees, Invisible Rootsby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesSeptember 8th, 2011The New York Times reports that some fertility clinics use sperm from “popular” donors over and over again, in one case creating 150 related offspring.
Yet Another Idea for Using Biotechnology to Rescue Endangered Speciesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 8th, 2011Scientists have reprogrammed skin cells from two endangered species into stem cells, and hope to use them to generate gametes, which has provoked press speculation.
Noteworthy Victory Against Genetic Discrimination Goes Unnoticed by Emily BeitiksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 8th, 2011The California Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act has now been signed into law, but press coverage has been non-existent.
Science Magazine Boosts Synthetic Biologyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 7th, 2011A special feature in Science magazine is devoted to promoting synthetic biology.
The Problem with Twin Studiesby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesAugust 26th, 2011Slate's Brian Palmer critiques the proliferation of scientific findings based on twin studies that claim to isolate the genetic underpinnings of human behavior.
Race and bio-patents don't mixby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesAugust 3rd, 2011The Washington Post ran a piece drawing heavily on Jonathan Kahn's recent work, which examines how US patent procedure is forcing race into genetic and medical research.
The Abortion Trap: How America's obsession with abortion hurts families everywhere[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Mara HvistendahlForeign PolicyJuly 26th, 2011How America's obsession with abortion hurts families everywhere.
How to Hack a Genomeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 20th, 2011Synthetic biology seems to have taken a major step forward, with the publication of a technique for making multiple alterations to a living genome.
Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines on Outsourcing Clinical Trialsby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesJuly 19th, 2011Fault Lines’ Zeina Awad offers a compelling inside look into the questionable business of using vulnerable populations from the developing world to test drugs that will not benefit them and will largely be consumed by Westerners.
California agency: Little cells, big salary[Editorial]Los Angeles TimesJuly 7th, 2011The big paycheck of the state's stem cell research agency chief is disturbing, particularly because it's a time when most state agencies are making radical cutbacks.
German campaign to stop DNA database expansion, now in English by Emily StehrBiopolitical TimesJuly 7th, 2011Human Q-tips are the symbol of the Gene-ethical Network's campaign to curtail the ever-expanding German DNA database
Are Skewed Sex Ratios In America’s Future? by Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2011Might technological shifts turn Americans’ preference for sons into a full-blown son preference?
NY Bill to Expand DNA Database Stalls in Legislatureby Emily StehrBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2011Lawmakers argue over access to the state’s forensic database instead of addressing underlying concerns about DNA evidence reliability and individuals’ rights.
Promoting a Genetic Basis for Crimeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 23rd, 2011An article in the New York Times celebrates a misguided trend toward genetic explanations for crime.
Honorary Degree For Henrietta Lacksby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesJune 9th, 2011One of the most interesting ways in which Lacks has been recognized is the granting of a posthumous honorary degree (doctorate of public service) by Morgan State University
The Consequence of Unnatural Selection: 160 Million Missing Girlsby Marcy DarnovskyMs. Magazine BlogJune 6th, 2011Mara Hvistendahl's new book provides a deeper understanding of sex selection around the world and makes an urgent case for confronting it.
Toward a More Nuanced Science Journalismby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorMay 29th, 2011Science journalism needs greater awareness of sociological, philosophical, and science studies approaches to science and policy.
Axing Gamete Donor Anonymity: British Columbia Ruling Reflects Growing Global Conversation by Jillian TheilRH Reality CheckMay 26th, 2011A British Columbia judge has ruled that anonymity for gamete donors in the Canadian province is unconstitutional.
Annals of Human Genetics Does A Little “House Cleaning.” Sort Of.by Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesMay 19th, 2011In a former incarnation, a well-respected scholarly journal promoted eugenics. It has now put its archives online.
Exoskeleton Helps UCB Student Walk for Graduation: Disability Justice or Cyborg Fantasy?by Emily BeitiksBiopolitical TimesMay 18th, 2011A new invention for paraplegics allows a UCB grad to walk to accept his diploma, but the device comes with disability clichés and transhumanist potential.
Dreams of the Weekby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 18th, 2011Several recent announcements and studies appear to presage renewed interest in manipulating the biology that is thought to control longevity and especially our children's happiness and intelligence.
Gene of the Week: Attack on the "Warrior Gene"by Jillian TheilBiopolitical TimesMay 11th, 2011In an effort to expose the “blame-it-on-our-genes-craze,” John Horgan at Scientific American takes a closer look at the so-called warrior gene.
Media Passes Gene Test, Parents Flunkby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 21st, 2011Parents interested in having their own genes tested also want to test their kids, but the media reports quote experts recommending against routine testing of children for adult-onset diseases.
Breast Cancer Gene Case Has Another Day in Court by Eric Hoffman and Jaydee Hanson, Biopolitical Times guest contributorsApril 7th, 2011A US appeals court hears arguments in a high-profile case challenging human gene patents.
More Arguing About Human Gene Patents in Courtby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesApril 7th, 2011A Federal Court of Appeals panel heard oral arguments in the Myriad case, but gave no hint of its decision; either way, many expect it to go to the Supreme Court.
Gene of the Week: Christianityby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 1st, 2011Gay scientists are reported to have isolate the 'Christian gene' and to have successfully removed it from experimental rats.
FDA Considers Regulation of DTC Gene Tests, Setting Blogs Ablaze by Jillian TheilBiopolitical TimesMarch 17th, 2011Supporters and critics of direct-to-consumer gene tests debate an FDA advisory panel’s recommendations to conduct them in medical settings.
New film depicts a genetically engineered, anti-gay future by Doug PetBiopolitical TimesMarch 17th, 2011Nisha Ganatra’s Beholder depicts a future in which children are genetically designed and homosexuality is screened out of the population.
What is it about people who want to clone dogs?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 9th, 2011Another eccentric character is paying $310,000 to have two dogs cloned in Korea.
Donor-Conceived Children Look for Their Own Biological Historyby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesMarch 2nd, 2011A feature story in Newsweek highlights the growing trend for donor offspring to assert their right to know their genetic origins.
Criminal Surrogacy Ring Exposed in Thailandby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 2nd, 2011Police in Thailand have broken up a criminal operation, apparently based in Taiwan and with an office in Cambodia, that sold the services of Vietnamese women as surrogates.
Past medical testing on humans revealedby Mike StobbeThe Washington PostFebruary 27th, 2011Much of this horrific history is 40 to 80 years old, but it is the backdrop for a meeting in Washington this week by a presidential bioethics commission.
Pushing the Bioethics Envelope to Serve Neo-Eugenic Purposesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 24th, 2011Prominent British-based bioethicists seem to be changing the terms of debate, in favor of eugenic interventions.
More on the Prospects for Genomic Medicineby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 16th, 2011Nature weighs in on the future of effective medical genomics, which seems some decades away.
Isn't It Time to Focus on the Real Future?by Jillian Theil and Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 16th, 2011Time magazine features a glowing story about Ray Kurzweil, of Singularity fame. But does the hoopla around Kurzweil's tomorrow distract from the important problems of today?
Mother Jones’ Illustrated Epigenetic Primerby Jillian TheilBiopolitical TimesFebruary 10th, 2011Mother Jones features “The Illustrated Guide to Epigenetics.”
Will the UK legalize paying women for their eggs?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 19th, 2011The UK is starting a public consultation that is widely considered to be an attempt to evade the ban on paying for eggs and sperm.
Testing for Brainsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 19th, 2011Discussing DTC tests, even libertarians seem to slip into some kind of contradictory acceptance of regulation.
Your Next Book: Genetic Justiceby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesJanuary 13th, 2011A new book about the use of DNA-based techniques in the criminal justice system is a biopolitical must-read.
Dog, Inc.: A Book About Peopleby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 11th, 2011A new book about dog cloning offers a deadpan description of the people involved.
The Baby Business: A Fairy Tale?by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJanuary 6th, 2011Yet another first-person account that puts rose-tinted glasses on the potential for exploitation in the commercial surrogacy business.
Synthetic Hypeby Jonathan Kahn, Biopolitical Times guest contributorBiopolitical Times guest contributorDecember 27th, 2010Hype has consequences. It does not simply generate support for science; it profoundly impacts major decisions regarding the allocation of scare biomedical resources. It has also promoted the increasing commercialization of academia.
Synthetic Hypeby Jonathan KahnBiopolitical Times guest contributorDecember 27th, 2010Hype has consequences. It does not simply generate support for science; it profoundly impacts major decisions regarding the allocation of scare biomedical resources. It has also promoted the increasing commercialization of academia.
Gruesome Murder Plot With an ART Twist by Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesDecember 21st, 2010Infertility can be stressful, both emotionally and financially. It is not uncommon for this to lead couples to separate or divorce. But murder?
Researchers produce two-father mice babies, and bait the hype trap by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 14th, 2010Scientists fuel sensationalist speculation about reproductive methods for gay families.
"This Paper Should Not Have Been Published"by Carl ZimmerSlateDecember 7th, 2010Scientists see fatal flaws in the NASA study of arsenic-based life.
Gene of the Week: One-night standby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 7th, 2010A small, tentative study is over-hyped even by its authors to emphasize casual sex.
Questions Over California’s Newborn Screening Programby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesNovember 24th, 2010KTVU ran a special report last week on California’s newborn screening program. The report highlights the extent to which parents are unaware that the bloodspot card is kept on file by the state. Indefinitely.
No Laughing Matter: The Risks that Human Research Subjects Faceby Jillian TheilBiopolitical TimesNovember 18th, 2010Joking about putting human research subjects into harm’s way isn’t funny.
Europeans Want Regulation for Biotechby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 18th, 2010The latest Eurobarometer report on biotechnology shows that Europeans, in general, support medical uses of technology as long as they are carefully regulated.
Time to Nationalize IRBs? by Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesNovember 11th, 2010Alice Dreger makes a proposal worth paying attention to: nationalize institutional review boards (IRBs).
Science in the New York Timesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 11th, 2010The anniversary issue of the Science Times section includes analysis and predictions as well as news.
Gene Patent Ruling Raises Questions for Industryby Andrew PollackNew York TimesNovember 1st, 2010Sharp reaction greeted the declaration that human and other genes are not patentable.
Reactions to US Government "Bombshell" against Gene Patents by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesNovember 1st, 2010The Department of Justice now says that genes are products of nature, not human-made inventions, and therefore cannot be patented.
Embryonic Stem Cells: A Small Step Forward?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 21st, 2010Geron's first clinical trial involving embryonic stem cells is greeted without much enthusiasm -- except by its competitors.
New Scientist Puts Another Chink in DNA Forensics’ Armorby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesOctober 14th, 2010The New Scientist’s Linda Geddes draws attention to the role of subjectivity in determining the significance of DNA evidence.
Women delay childbirth due to false fertility expectationsby Tom Blackwell National PostOctober 13th, 2010A new study finds that women are delaying childbirth, partly because they have an exaggerated belief that fertility treatments will help them get pregnant well into middle age.
Nobel Award for IVF Sparks Speculationby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 7th, 2010The Nobel Prize awarded to Robert Edwards, for developing IVF, provoked some disturbing speculation.
Building Brighter Kids? Not exactlyby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 7th, 2010A Time Healthland headline grossly distorts a legitimate study on the effects of IVF on children.
Genism of the week: hybrid cars, chocolate, science fiction movies, mustard and jazzby Jillian TheilBiopolitical TimesSeptember 23rd, 2010News coverage of a recent study on preferences fosters the worst kind of "genism."
60 Minutes on Stem Cells and Snake Oilby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesSeptember 22nd, 201060 Minutes recently re-aired a story about stem cell con artists who play on the desperation of people with fatal degenerative diseases.
The Great Gene Hunt (cont'd)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 3rd, 2010Accurate reporting and headlines should not be noteworthy, but when it comes to genetics they are -- and Reuters got one right.
ART and Art in the Movies 2010by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 25th, 2010Assisted reproductive technologies are a repeating theme this year in Hollywood, and the results seem to be decidedly mixed.
Should U.S. Citizenship Be Heritable?by Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesAugust 21st, 2010If not birthright, what should be the basis of citizenship?
Time to Clean Up After Cloning Cattleby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 17th, 2010The USDA is still committed to promoting livestock cloning, but recent bad publicity makes it clear that the technology remains unpopular, unnecessary, and unethical.
The futures that don't need us, that didn't happen, and that we should avoidby Jesse ReynoldsBiopolitical TimesAugust 11th, 2010Two similar recent publications echo Bill Joy's "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us."
Wise Words from a Comedic Criticby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesJuly 14th, 2010Sultan of satirical news, Stephen Colbert regularly calls attention to important biopolitical issues. Within many of his uproarious commentaries and interviews are meaningful insights.
Made in Indiaby Molly MaguireBiopolitical TimesJuly 2nd, 2010Made in India is a newly released documentary that explores India’s reproductive tourism industry through an ethical, social, and feminist lens.
Politics Belong in Scienceby Brendan ParentBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2010Reflecting on Venter's recent announcement and Obama's call to study Synthetic Biology, Time's Nancy Gibbs clarifies that political engagement with science is essential.
A Curious Incidentby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2010The 10th anniversary of the first Human Genome Project announcement passed with remarkably little hoopla.
A Singular Kind of Eugenicsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 16th, 2010Modern techno-utopianism, discussed in a recent feature on Singularity University, has worryingly eugenic overtones.
"Splice" is an Infertile Hybridby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 8th, 2010The movie Splice is neither deep enough to be interesting nor shocking enough to succeed as horror.
Reactions to Venter's Latest Synthetic Biology Announcement by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 22nd, 2010The announcement of the first self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cell provoked considerable comment, and led President Obama to make synthetic biology the first order of business for his Bioethics Commission.
IVF Doc Promotes IVF Shockby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 20th, 2010New reports that IVF will replace sex turn out to be based partly on a misunderstanding.
Gene of the Week: Debtby Jesse ReynoldsBiopolitical TimesMay 19th, 2010Recent headlines may have exaggerated a gene's apparent impact on indebtedness. On top of that, an observer proposed testing and perhaps even genetically modifying people for this condition.
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