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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."



Discrimination Based on Genetics Could Soon be Illegal, and itís Right on Timeby William Wolfe-WylieCanada.comNovember 18th, 2014As personalized genetic testing hits the mainstream, what companies do with that information is of growing concern.
The Case for a "New Biopolitics" [VIDEO][With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]Marcy Darnovsky presents the case for a "New biopolitics" at the University of San Francisco's LASER Center speakers series (2014)
Breaking from our Eugenic Pastby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 2014As the victims of North Carolina's eugenics program finally receive compensation, we should not celebrate "the new eugenics" as some have argued, but learn carefully from this history.
Human Germline Modification in the UK? Cries of Caution from all Cornersby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 201475% of submissions about three-person IVF to the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee warn that more evidence is needed prior to offering these techniques.
Gene Therapy: Editorial Controlby Katharine GammonNature NewsNovember 12th, 2014Correcting the genetic error in sickle-cell disease might be as simple as amending text.
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.
Human Thoughts Used to Switch on Genes by Helen ThomsonNew ScientistNovember 11th, 2014"We wanted to be able to use brainwaves to control genes. It's the first time anyone has linked synthetic biology and the mind," says a bioengineer who led the team behind the work.
Should Life Insurance Firms Have Access to Your Genetic Test Results?by Melissa HealyLos Angeles TimesNovember 11th, 2014US federal law prohibits the use of genetic information for health insurance coverage decisions. But it doesn't cover life insurance, disability insurance or long-term care insurance.
At Least 11 Women Die After Sterilization in Indiaby Katy DaigleAssociated PressNovember 11th, 2014A total of 83 women, all villagers under the age of 32, had the operations as part of India's free sterilization campaign. Dozens later became ill and were rushed to private hospitals.
Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questionsby Rob SteinNPRNovember 10th, 2014It would be the first time genetic changes have been made in human DNA that would be passed on, down the generations, through the germline.
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