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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."



As Kuwait imposes world’s first DNA collection law, attorney tries to fight itby Cyrus FarivarARS TechnicaSeptember 22nd, 2016“Compelling every citizen, resident, and visitor to submit a DNA sample to the government is similar to forcing house searches without a warrant."
Monsanto Licenses CRISPR Technology to Modify Crops — with Key Restrictionsby Sharon BegleySTATSeptember 22nd, 2016Broad Institute issues a CRISPR license to Monsanto, restricting any uses in gene drive, "terminator seeds" or tobacco R&D.
Breaking Taboo, Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Rob SteinNPRSeptember 22nd, 2016CRISPR gene editing human embryos is a step toward attempts at producing genetically modified humans. It's not a technology to be taken lightly.
Titanic Clash Over CRISPR Patents Turns Uglyby Heidi LedfordNature September 21st, 2016Parties aggressively wage a billion-dollar patent battle meanwhile licensing their disputed rights to large drug companies aiming for clinical trials.
Stem Cell Advocates and Critics Push Back on FDA Guidelinesby Alexandra OssolaScientific AmericanSeptember 21st, 2016At a public hearing on how strictly therapies should be regulated, testimony noted the number of unscrupulous clinics preying on desperate patients with unsubstantiated claims.
Cut-Throat Academia Leads to 'Natural Selection of Bad Science', Claims Studyby Hannah DevlinThe GuardianSeptember 20th, 2016Under pressures of funding and attracting "progeny," many scientists publish surprising yet unreliable findings. Shortcomings include small sample sizes and false positives.
Patients Turn To San Diego Stem Cell Companies For Costly, Unproven Treatmentsby David WagnerKPBSSeptember 20th, 2016An investigation reveals a US stem cell company is referring patients to Mexico for non-FDA approved therapies that may be causing harm.
White House science advisers urge Justice Dept., judges to raise forensic standardsby Spencer S. HsuWashington PostSeptember 20th, 2016A new report cautions that widely used methods to trace complex DNA samples to criminal defendants fall short of scientific standards.
Why we need a law to prevent genetic discriminationby Yvonne Bombard, Ronald Cohn & Stephen SchererThe Globe and Mail [Canada]September 19th, 2016After unanimous passage through Canada's Senate, Bill S-201 on genetic data is now presented before the House of Commons.
Human Chimera Research’s Huge (and Thorny) Potentialby Paul KnoepflerWiredSeptember 19th, 2016Stem cell researcher notes a range of ethical questions on the table if the NIH moves forward with lifting its research ban.
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