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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.



Gene Therapy's 'Temporary Benefits' for Retina DiseaseBBCMay 4th, 2015Two trials of gene therapy on an inherited form of blindness in children have shown some patients' eyesight can be improved - but only temporarily.
Myriad Genetics Fights Off Threats From Rivalsby Joseph WalkerWall Street JournalMay 3rd, 2015Nearly two years after the Supreme Court struck down gene patents, DNA testing firm fights to sustain business model.
How Private DNA Data Led Idaho Cops on a Wild Goose Chase and Linked an Innocent Man to a 20-year-old Murder Caseby Jennifer LynchElectronic Frontier FoundationMay 1st, 2015This case highlights the extreme threats posed to privacy and civil liberties by familial DNA searches and by private, unregulated DNA databases.
US Stem Cell Clinics, Patient Safety, and the FDAby Leigh TurnerTrends in Molecular MedicineMay 1st, 2015These businesses typically claim to operate in compliance with federal regulations, but careful review of their commercial practices suggests that such clinics are marketing unapproved and noncompliant biological drugs.
CRISPR Germline Editing Reverberates Through Biotech Communityby BioentrepreneurNature News BlogApril 30th, 2015The group has called for a discussion of the potential merits and risks of the technology and a global moratorium on germline applications, until such time, if ever, responsible uses can be identified.
Could Genetically Engineered Humans Become a Reality?[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Robert KingWashington ExaminerApril 30th, 2015If you start to modify embryos for health reasons, then it could start humanity down a path towards non-therapeutic enhancements.
Guest Post: A Look Inside a Stem Cell Clinic Infomercial Eventby David BrafmanKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogApril 29th, 2015Over the past several years there has been a proliferation of so-called stem cell ‘clinics’, which promise patients miraculous therapies often for currently incurable diseases and disorders.
NIH Statement on Gene Editing Highlights Need for Stronger US Stance on Genetically Modified Humans, Says Public Interest GroupApril 29th, 2015CGS welcomes NIH Director Francis Collins' unambiguous statement that "altering the human germline in embryos for clinical purposes ...has been viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed."
How Future Hackers Will Target Your DNAby John SotosWall Street JournalApril 28th, 2015They’ll do this by designing DNA sequences that code for new, living viruses that spread from person to person as easily as measles, and that kill (or sicken) as inevitability as rabies.
Re-Engineering Human Embryos[With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Tom AshbrookOn PointApril 28th, 2015Chinese scientists re-engineer human embryo genes, and set off a global moral debate.
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