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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."



Gender-Biased Sex Selection an Extreme Form and Manifestation of Gender Discrimination and Inequality Against Women, Say UN Women and UNFPAUN WomenAugust 18th, 2014The sharply declining child sex ratio in India has reached emergency proportions and urgent action must be taken to alleviate this crisis.
Misconceptionby Sarah DingleThe Sydney Morning HeraldAugust 16th, 2014The discovery in her late 20s that she was conceived using a sperm donor was a huge shock to Sarah Dingle. But learning there was no possibility of finding out the name of her biological father was even more disturbing.
Australia Could Recognise Multiple Parentsby Michael CookBioEdgeAugust 16th, 2014Adoption and new reproduction technologies are placing new strains on what “parent” means in contemporary society. If recommendations in a major report are accepted, Australian law could be revised to allow more than two.
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.
Thailand to Ban Commercial Surrogacy in Wake of Gammy ScandalThe GuardianAugust 13th, 2014Military government approve draft law that will effectively stop foreign couples paying for pregnancies in the country.
Could a Genetic Test Predict the Risk for Suicide?by Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewAugust 13th, 2014Two groups of researchers are claiming they can use DNA tests to predict who will attempt suicide, and one startup company will begin offering a suicide risk test to doctors next month for patients taking antidepressants.
Questions Raised Over DNA Evidence to Secure Murder Convictionsby Candice MarcusABCAugust 13th, 2014A High Court ruling that DNA evidence was not enough to convict a man of murder could have wider implications on DNA convictions across Australia.
As Data Overflows Online, Researchers Grapple With Ethicsby Vindu GoelThe New York TimesAugust 12th, 2014It’s the frontier of social science — experiments on people who may never even know they are subjects of study, let alone explicitly consent.
New CRG Report: Genetic Privacy and Non-Forensic BiobanksCouncil for Responsible GeneticsAugust 12th, 2014Do You Know Where Your DNA Is? Genetic Privacy and Non-Forensic Biobanks explores the various forms of biobanks in the US, their privacy limitations, the current state of regulation and the need for reform.
Should we Open the Door to Genetically Modified Babies?by Jessica CussinsCNBCAugust 11th, 2014There has been a lot of confusion around this controversial issue, but as we are now facing a historic crossroads, it is important to set the record straight.
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