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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."

18 Years Later: First Update on Children Born Using 3-person IVF Precursorby Leah LowthorpBiopolitical TimesOctober 27th, 2016Citing a recent study, the media is celebrating "proof" that there is little danger in 3-person IVF. The study itself, however, is not at all certain of the reliability of its results.
3-person IVF and Infertility: What Kind of Slippery Slope is This?by Leah LowthorpBiopolitical TimesOctober 26th, 2016To what extent has anticipation of using 3-person IVF for infertility been part of the story from the start? While we can't know for sure, here are some possible connections.
Blame bad incentives for bad scienceby Bethany BerkshireScienceNewsOctober 21st, 2016The publish-or-perish culture promotes high-impact papers with novel findings, ultimately leading to sloppy, irreproducible, and sometimes unethical practices.
Just What We Need: Slicker Infertility Marketingby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorOctober 21st, 2016A serial tech entrepreneur launches a new start-up called Prelude with a hipster-chic website downplaying the many unknowns of egg freezing.
First Spindle Nuclear Transfer Baby Has Low Mutant DNA Loadby Kate JohnsonMedscapeOctober 20th, 2016At the ASRM Scientific Congress, doctors express optimistic hope to continue using procedure for mitochondrial manipulation, with little caution.
Should young women sell their eggs?by Donna de la CruzThe New York TimesOctober 20th, 2016The amount of egg donors increased two-fold from 2000 to 2010, but the long-term risks of putting egg maturation into overdrive are still unknown.
Surprisingly few new parents enlist in study to have baby's genome sequencedby Jocelyn KaiserScience MagazineOctober 19th, 2016NIH-funded project, BabySeq, seeks to analyze protein-coding DNA for mutations in 7,000 genes associated with childhood diseases.
Crispr’s IPO doesn’t hit its targetby Robert WeismanThe Boston GlobeOctober 19th, 2016CRISPR Therapeutics' public offering raises half that of its rivals Editas & Intellia -- a sign that the market may be pulling back on genome editing stocks.
Social science: Include social equity in California Biohubby Science FARE (Feminist Anti-Racist Equity) Collective: Jessica Cussins, Kate Weatherford Darling, Ugo Edu, Laura Mamo, Jenny Reardon & Charis ThompsonNatureOctober 19th, 20165–7% of the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative's Biohub health-research budget should be used to design and monitor goals of justice and equality from the outset, or social inequalities could limit the project's potential.
Reports of ‘three-parent babies’ multiplyby Sara ReardonNature NewsOctober 19th, 2016Claims of infants created using mitochondrial manipulation techniques in Mexico and China, and two pregnancies in the Ukraine, stir scientific and ethical debate.
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