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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."



Seoul Sets Advisory Limit on IVF Embryo Transfer[South Korea]by Claire LeeThe Korea HeraldSeptember 2nd, 2015South Korea’s Health Ministry is revising its guidelines for IVF, discouraging medical professionals from transferring more than three embryos in a single procedure.
Debate Ensues as Prenatal Tests Reach Beyond Down Syndromeby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewAugust 31st, 2015Doctors and genetic counselors question the expanding scope of blood tests during pregnancy.
Banning Abortion for Down Syndrome: Legal or Ethical Justification? by Bonnie SteinbockHastings Center Bioethics ForumAugust 26th, 2015Instead of passing an unenforceable and unconstitutional law, Ohio should devote its time to ensuring that all people with disabilities, Down syndrome or otherwise, get the resources and services they need.
We're Tantalizingly Close to a New Era in Childbirthby Ellie KincaidTech InsiderAugust 24th, 2015Developing technology that increases the chances of pregnancy for women over 35, though a feat in itself with many benefits, will solve one problem only imperfectly, and raise many more questions.
Choosing Children’s Sex Is an Exercise in Sexism[Australia]by Tereza HendlThe ConversationAugust 23rd, 2015Australian guidelines for ethical use of IVF allow sex selection for medical reasons. But draft guidelines now open for public submissions may allow the choice for social reasons.
Ohio Bill Would Ban Abortion if Down Syndrome Is Reasonby Tamar LewinThe New York TimesAugust 22nd, 2015Abortion opponents are pushing Ohio to make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion if a woman is terminating her pregnancy to avoid having a baby with Down syndrome.
Genome Editing: The Age of the Red Pen [References CGS]The EconomistAugust 22nd, 2015Because it is so simple and easy to use, CRISPR has generated huge excitement in the worlds of molecular biology, medical research, commercial biotechnology
What Are You Doing with My DNA? by Diana KwonScientific AmericanAugust 21st, 2015The play “Informed Consent” explores deep ethical questions in genetics research.
Conversation with Kelly Hills: Human Genetic Modification & Bioethicsby Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogAugust 20th, 2015An interview with bioethics commentator Kelly Hills tackles some of the key issues surrounding the potential use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology to make heritable genetic modifications in humans.
IVF Mix-Up Case Now Before Court of Appeal[Singapore]by Selina LumThe Straits TimesAugust 20th, 2015Woman who had baby with stranger's sperm rather than her husband's is appealing to be awarded upkeep costs.
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