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About Bioethics & Human Biotechnology


Bioethics established itself in the late 1960s as a field concerned with the ethical and philosophical implications of certain biological and medical procedures, technologies, and treatments. Early issues included end-of-life decision-making, organ donation, and human experimentation. Human biotechnology became a concern when the first bioethics institutes were established in the early 1970s. This attention skyrocketed in 1990 when the U.S. Human Genome Project earmarked 3% to 5% of its $3 billion federal budget to the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) research program, making its activities the world's largest bioethics program.

Bioethics initially represented diverse ethical philosophies. But by the mid-1980s, most professional bioethicists were grounded in individualist and utilitarian frameworks. Bioethicists appropriately continued to consider informed consent, patient safety and similar topics, but their attention to the broad social and political meanings of human biotechnologies had faded.

This shift has been unfortunate for the public's understanding. Most bioethicists present themselves as disinterested analysts who can be trusted to represent a full range of constituencies: researchers, biotech corporations, patients, religious groups, marginalized communities, and other affected parties. But in fact, many promote their own world views, which often emphasize libertarian values over commitments to the public interest.

The role of bioethics has been further compromised by its increasing financial and professional ties to the biotech industry. Many university bioethics centers receive funding from biotech corporations, and many bioethicists serve as paid or unpaid members of corporate "ethical advisory boards."



California needs to do more than apologize to people it sterilizedby The Times editorial boardLos Angeles Times January 21st, 2017State officials should quickly begin tracking down these elderly victims who were abused decades ago while under the stateís care. Time is short to do right by them.
Written evidence for the Genomics and Genome-Editing Inquiry of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee[cites CGS]by Edward Hockings and Lewis CoyneEthics and GeneticsJanuary 20th, 2017UKís bioscience policy has been framed in terms of commercial value at the expense of substantive public consultation and broader deliberation.
When a Study Cast Doubt on a Heart Pill, the Drug Company Turned to Tom Priceby Robert FaturechiProPublicaJanuary 19th, 2017After hearing from a company whose CEO was a campaign contributor, a congressional aide to Donald Trumpís HHS nominee repeatedly pushed a federal health agency to remove a critical drug study from its website.
California voters were promised cures. But the state stem cell agency has funded just a trickle of clinical trials[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Charles PillerSTATJanuary 19th, 2017The Institute of Medicine said in a 2013 review that institutionalized conflicts of interest have raised questions about "the integrity and independence of some of CIRMís decisions."
How to Watch the Biggest Science Story of 2017by Leah LowthorpBiopolitical TimesJanuary 19th, 2017Less than three weeks into the new year, gene editing is already set to be one of the biggest stories of 2017. Here are three key points to watch out for.
Do We Need an International Body to Regulate Genetic Engineering?by Kristen V. BrownGizmodoJanuary 18th, 2017Science reaches across borders, which poses challenging questions for us to decide what the future should look like--locally and globally.
Controversial IVF technique produces a baby girl -- and for some, that's a problemby Susan ScuttiCNNJanuary 18th, 2017Stakes are rising as genetic modifications produced in a girl baby could be passed onto her future children. The risks remain unknown.
CGS Board Member Leads Redress Call for California Survivors of Eugenic Sterilization by Marcy DarnovskyJanuary 16th, 2017Scholars estimate that more than 800 people alive today were sterilized in California state institutions, and call on the state to consider compensation and redress.
Fertility Futility: Procedures Claimed to Boost IVF Success Lack Supporting Evidenceby Sandy OngNewsweekJanuary 12th, 2017Of nearly 30 expensive clinic add-ons reviewed by researchers, only one drew some evidence of boosting the chances of having a baby.
The Promise and Peril of Emerging Reproductive Technologiesby Ekaterina PeshevaHarvard Medical SchoolJanuary 11th, 2017IVG, thus far successful only in mice, allows scientists to create embryos in a lab by reprogramming any type of adult cell to become a sperm or egg cell.
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