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About Environmentalism & Human Biotechnology


Environmentalists bring to the politics of human biotechnologies their long experience of the need for caution in the face of powerful new technologies, and for responsible social governance of technological innovation.

Environmentalists pioneered the precautionary principle, which counsels that the foreseeable consequences of new technologies should be evaluated in advance of their development and use, and that the burden of demonstrating their safety lies with their advocates and beneficiaries. Environmentalists also draw attention to the need for government to regulate markets in order to ensure public health and well-being.

Environmentalists' appreciation for appropriate technology and understanding that technical fixes are often inappropriate for social problems also hold important insights for evaluating human biotechnologies. Which biomedical, reproductive, and genetic applications of are worthy of support when measured against the principles of social justice, the common good, and the public interest? Which should we forgo? Which pose novel moral and political risks that require careful oversight and regulation?



How We Should Rethink the Role of Technical Expertise in GMO Regulation[India]by Dhvani Mehta and Yashaswini MittalThe WireAugust 31st, 2015The regulation of GMOs represents a good opportunity to rethink the role of public participation and non-technical knowledge in environmental regulatory discourse in general.
Alphabet/Google Isn’t Evil but Genetically Modifying Mosquitos Might Beby Mic WrightThe Next WebAugust 25th, 2015Recent biotech hype about using gene drive to reduce global malaria is best understood as a new chapter in humanity's historically poor record of forcibly changing ecosystems.
The Colonial Origins of Conservation: The Disturbing History Behind US National Parksby Stephen CorryTruthoutAugust 25th, 2015Environmental conservation that excludes tribal peoples has deep connections with historical eugenics.
The Next Great GMO Debateby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewAugust 11th, 2015Deep inside its labs, Monsanto is learning how to modify crops by spraying them with RNA rather than tinkering with their genes.
'Gene Drive': Scientists Sound Alarm Over Supercharged GM Organisms Which Could Spread in the Wild and Cause Environmental Disastersby Steve ConnorThe IndependentAugust 2nd, 2015Scientists fear new technique for generating “supercharged” genetically modified organisms that can spread rapidly in the wild may be misused and cause health emergency or environmental disaster.
The Regulatory System May Not Be Ready for Synthetic Organismsby Susana MedeirosRegBlogJuly 15th, 2015Synthetic microorganisms could reproduce, spread, and compete with natural organisms, and evolve to pose risks to humans, animals, and the environment.
Don't Mistake Genetics for Fateby Andrew Gelman & Kaiser FungThe Daily BeastJuly 11th, 2015It’s easy for the media to get misled on studies that seem to support genetic determinism. The result is that readers are exposed only to the puffery but only rarely to the skepticism.
"Jurassic World" and the Dinosaurs at the USDAby Rachel SmolkerTruthoutJune 22nd, 2015The regulations of the US Department of Agriculture are in desperate need of an overhaul if they are to protect the public from the derailing of billions of years of evolution for the purpose of corporate profit-making.
Will Pope Francis’s Climate Message Break Through Where Others Have Failed?by Marianne LavelleScienceJune 18th, 2015The letter—184 pages long in its English version—also goes far beyond climate issues, touching on biodiversity conservation, genetically modified crops, and other issues.
CRISPR, The Disruptorby Heidi LedfordNature NewsJune 3rd, 2015A powerful gene-editing technology is the biggest game changer to hit biology since PCR. But with its huge potential come pressing concerns.
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