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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.



NIPS SPINby Robert RestaThe DNA ExchangeApril 21st, 2014Every few years a new screening technology comes zooming down the prenatal pike, sometimes arriving more quickly than we might like. The latest iteration – Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening - stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Top 5 Challenges for SCNT Cloned Human Embryonic Stem Cellsby Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogApril 21st, 2014A new advance in somatic cell nuclear transfer-based therapeutic cloning of human embryonic stem cells is important because it showed it could be done using adult cells. However, key challenges and concerns remain.
Is Illumina’s $1,000 Genome a Reality? Not for Clinical Laboratory Purposes, Asserts an In Vitro Diagnostics Expert by Joseph BurnsDark DailyApril 21st, 2014Gene sequencing for clinical purposes requires more resources, including the costs of experts to interpret data to help pathologists and physicians involved in the case.
Geneticist Cynthia Kenyon is Heading to Googleby Stephanie M. LeeSan Francisco ChronicleApril 20th, 2014Google's mysterious health venture dedicated to extending human life has quietly lured a biochemistry and biophysics professor acclaimed for her discoveries about the genetics of aging away from UCSF.
Should the U.S. Prohibit Reproductive Cloning?[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Tim SandleDigital JournalApril 18th, 2014Researchers have produced stem cell lines using somatic cell nuclear transfer from cells, making human reproductive cloning more technically feasible. Is this a good idea?
Scientists Make First Embryo Clones From Adults[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Gautam NaikThe Wall Street JournalApril 17th, 2014Scientists for the first time have cloned cells from two adults to create early-stage embryos, and then derived tissue from those embryos that perfectly matched the DNA of the donors.
Hot New Having It All Tip: Just Be Rich Enough to Freeze Your Eggs!by Erin Gloria RyanJezebelApril 17th, 2014Fertility preservation, as the kids are calling it nowadays, is the future of women's career advancement, says a Bloomberg writer and editor. But, like most trendpieces about options only rich people can afford, There Are Some Problems With This Piece.
Development in cloning research underscores need for US to prohibit reproductive cloning[Press statement]April 17th, 2014Public interest group also questions risks to women who provide eggs and implications for health equity.
Advocates for Children and Childhood Mobilizing on Concerns about GM Babiesby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesApril 17th, 2014Concern about "three-person embryo" techniques is growing among advocates for children and childhood.
Now They're Selling Synthetic Biology as Food?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 16th, 2014The commercialization of synthetic biology has been mostly based on public relations. Now there are efforts to introduce the technology to make food additives, quietly.
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