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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.



Still No Stem Cells Via Easy 'STAP' Pathby David CyranoskiNatureDecember 18th, 2014The Japanese stem-cell biologist whose papers caused a sensation earlier this year before being retracted has failed to replicate the controversial experiments.
Biopolitical News of 2014by Pete Shanks, Jessica Cussins & Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2014This is everything important that happened in biopolitics in 2014 (or close to it).
Cell Free DNA Screening is not a Simple Blood TestSociety for Maternal Fetal MedicineDecember 18th, 2014By its very nature, a screening test does not tell with 100% certainty whether or not a fetus will be affected by a given disorder.
European Court Opens Door for Stem Cell PatentingGenetic Engineering & Biotechnology NewsDecember 18th, 2014The European Court of Justice ruled that human embryonic stem cell patents could be allowed if organisms can't develop into human being.
Top Biopolitical Times Posts of 2014by Jessica Cussins & Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2014In 2014, CGS staffers and contributors posted 107 blogs in Biopolitical Times. These are twelve of our favorites.
Geneticists Begin Tests of an Internet for DNAby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewDecember 17th, 2014Scientists are starting to open their DNA databases online, creating a network that could pave the way for gene analysis at a new scale.
Myriad Loses Appeals Court Bid to Block Breast Cancer Testsby Susan DeckerBloomberg BusinessweekDecember 17th, 2014Myriad Genetics canít block competitorsí DNA tests to determine risk for breast and ovarian cancer after a US appeals court said three patents on the tests never should have been issued.
Prenatal Tests: Oversold and Misunderstoodby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorDecember 16th, 2014A scathing investigative report on the accuracy of noninvasive prenatal testing is likely to shift the terms of this important conversation.
Yesterday's War; Tomorrow's Technology by Nicholas G. Evans and Jonathan D. MorenoJournal of Law and the BiosciencesDecember 15th, 2014What's wrong with the prospect of the US military using genetic screening and germline genetic engineering to select or "enhance" soldiers?
Taking your Genome to the Bankby Harry GlorikianGenetic Engineering & Biotechnology NewsDecember 15th, 2014Your genome has huge implications for you and your children. Institutions that store it should be regulated on how they store it, use it, and potentially share it.
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