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About the Biotech & Pharma Industries & Human Biotechnology


The fast-growing biotech industry is playing a dominant role in shaping the development, marketing and use of human biotechnologies. Like the pharmaceutical industry, it profits by developing products aimed at treating disease and restoring health. Although some biotech products and activities are socially and ethically controversial, the industry as a whole tends to oppose public oversight and regulation.

This situation is complicated by increasingly blurred lines between private biotechnology companies and university researchers, between perceptions of serving the public interest and the profit imperatives of private enterprise, and between research and commercialization.

In recent decades, the US Congress has enacted policies that allow controversial patents (such as those on gene sequences and human tissues), and that encourage closer university-corporate relations. These policies have led to a rapid commercialization of biology and medicine, and to a significant number of university-based researchers with financial ties to private companies. Such arrangements allow them to maintain the appearance of serving the public interest while pursuing careers in the private sector.

Private industry is an important player in the development of human biotechnologies. But the lack of a financially independent counterweight like the one that public universities used to provide makes effective oversight and responsible regulation imperative. Given the impact of the biotech industry on public debate, public policy, and all of our lives, its interests must be transparent.



California needs to do more than apologize to people it sterilizedby The Times editorial boardLos Angeles Times January 21st, 2017State officials should quickly begin tracking down these elderly victims who were abused decades ago while under the stateís care. Time is short to do right by them.
Written evidence for the Genomics and Genome-Editing Inquiry of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee[cites CGS]by Edward Hockings and Lewis CoyneEthics and GeneticsJanuary 20th, 2017UKís bioscience policy has been framed in terms of commercial value at the expense of substantive public consultation and broader deliberation.
When a Study Cast Doubt on a Heart Pill, the Drug Company Turned to Tom Priceby Robert FaturechiProPublicaJanuary 19th, 2017After hearing from a company whose CEO was a campaign contributor, a congressional aide to Donald Trumpís HHS nominee repeatedly pushed a federal health agency to remove a critical drug study from its website.
California voters were promised cures. But the state stem cell agency has funded just a trickle of clinical trials[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Charles PillerSTATJanuary 19th, 2017The Institute of Medicine said in a 2013 review that institutionalized conflicts of interest have raised questions about "the integrity and independence of some of CIRMís decisions."
Do We Need an International Body to Regulate Genetic Engineering?by Kristen V. BrownGizmodoJanuary 18th, 2017Science reaches across borders, which poses challenging questions for us to decide what the future should look like--locally and globally.
Controversial IVF technique produces a baby girl -- and for some, that's a problemby Susan ScuttiCNNJanuary 18th, 2017Stakes are rising as genetic modifications produced in a girl baby could be passed onto her future children. The risks remain unknown.
Fertility Futility: Procedures Claimed to Boost IVF Success Lack Supporting Evidenceby Sandy OngNewsweekJanuary 12th, 2017Of nearly 30 expensive clinic add-ons reviewed by researchers, only one drew some evidence of boosting the chances of having a baby.
The Promise and Peril of Emerging Reproductive Technologiesby Ekaterina PeshevaHarvard Medical SchoolJanuary 11th, 2017IVG, thus far successful only in mice, allows scientists to create embryos in a lab by reprogramming any type of adult cell to become a sperm or egg cell.
Obama vs. Trump: 5 ways they clash ó or donít ó on health and scienceby Dylan ScottSTATJanuary 9th, 2017While Trump might play some wild cards in medicine, science, and public health, there may be some surprising continuity with President Obamaís administration.
How Gene Editing Could Ruin Human Evolution[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Jim KozubekTimeJanuary 9th, 2017There are no superior genes. Genes have a long and layered history, and they often have three or four unrelated functions, which balance against each other under selection.
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