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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?



Ethical Overkill: Institutions should take a unified look at protections for research on human subjects.Nature EditorialDecember 9th, 2014Investigators are clamouring for unified procedures to allow them to compile genetic information into databases without creating a legal thicket of differing privacy protections.
Extinct Species Should Stay Extinctby Ben A. MinteerCenter for Humans and NatureDecember 1st, 2014How far should we go to bring back lost species?
Synthetic Biologist Aims to Create Pig with Human Lungsby Lisa M. KriegerSan Jose Mercury NewsNovember 14th, 2014Led by scientists like Venter and Endy, the once-fledgling field of synthetic biology has surged in commercial interest.
Africa: Synthetic Biology - Artificial Life Threatens Nature and Societyby Glenn AshtonAllAfricaOctober 30th, 2014Biologists continue to push the boundaries of their ability to alter life on earth in novel and unpredictable ways. The latest version is known as synthetic biology, or "synbio."
Regulate Synthetic Biology Now: 194 CountriesSynBioWatchOctober 17th, 2014In a unanimous decision of 194 countries, the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity formally urged nation states to regulate synthetic biology.
Is Modern Technology Killing Us?by Erica EtelsonTruthoutSeptember 19th, 2014"Science now makes all things possible...but it does not thereby make all possible things desirable." - Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine
A New Generation of GMOsby Josie GarthwaiteEnsiaSeptember 18th, 2014Is synthetic biology on its way to our farms, markets and tables?
‘Can you clone that?’ Putin has close encounter with mammoth Dima in Russia’s Far EastRussia TodaySeptember 1st, 2014Upon meeting a mammoth mummy in a museum in the Russian Far East, President Putin was assured that the museum scientists are closely collaborating with South Koreans on the possibility of cloning it.
Century After Extinction, Passenger Pigeons Remain Iconic—And Scientists Hope to Bring Them Backby Carl ZimmerNational GeographicAugust 31st, 2014The 100th anniversary of the death of Martha, last of her kind, finds biologists dreaming of preventing or reversing extinctions.
Failures and Risks in Biosafety Regulationby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 24th, 2014Accidents at CDC and elsewhere point up the difficulties in regulating potentially dangerous releases of genetically modified organisms, which scientists are, quite responsibly, discussing.
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