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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?



Rewriting the Code of Lifeby Michael SpecterNew YorkerJanuary 2nd, 2017Combining gene drive and CRISPR/Cas9 technologies, Kevin Esvelt is in an unusual position. There has never been a more powerful biological tool, or one with more potential to both improve the world and endanger it.
2016 Fear vs Hope: Gene Editing— Terrible turning point?by Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleJanuary 1st, 2017As the tools for gene editing rapidly advance, we approach our best chance to prevent the rise of a modern, uncontrolled and dangerously ill-considered techno-eugenics.
‘Gene drive’ moratorium shot down at UN biodiversity meetingby Ewen CallawayNatureDecember 21st, 2016Environmental activists’ appeals for a freeze on gene-drive field trials, and on some lab research, are likely to resurface in the future.
Obama’s Outgoing Science Advisor Will Keep Watch in 2017by Dave LevitanWIREDDecember 20th, 2016There is no denying the scientific know-how of the outgoing administration. What comes next has scientists worried.
Four Steps Forward, One Leap Back on Global Governance of Synthetic Biologyby ETC GroupETC GroupDecember 19th, 2016196 countries meeting at the UN Convention on Biodiversity grappled with how synthetic biology and other risky technologies threaten biodiversity, local economies, and the rights of farmers and Indigenous Peoples.
Bioterrorism And Gene Editing: Can Crispr Tool Be Used As Biological Weapon In War?by Himanshu GoenkaIB TimesDecember 14th, 2016Given its broad distribution, low cost, and accelerated pace of development, deliberate or unintentional misuse of gene editing might have far-reaching economic and national security implications.
Trump, Science and Social Justiceby Pete ShanksDecember 8th, 2016President-elect Trump's appointments, so far, are frightening to anyone who cares about science, or social, economic and environmental justice.
Obama’s Science Advisors Are Worried About Future CRISPR Terrorismby Daniel OberhausVICE MotherboardNovember 21st, 2016While the form biological threats will take in the future is uncertain, what is certain is that the United States is not at all prepared to deal with them.
The Sudden, Inevitable Rewiring of the American Leftby Andrew BurmonInverseNovember 18th, 2016It's not clear which direction the Trump administration will be pushed by conservative evangelicals like Mike Pence and technophile wildcards like Peter Thiel.
Seeding Doubt: How Self-Appointed Guardians of “Sound Science” Tip the Scales Toward Industryby Liza GrossThe InterceptNovember 15th, 2016Sense About Science has downplayed concerns about industry-funded research and promoted science that favors private interests over public health.
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