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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?



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.
Proposed Gene Technology Could Alter Organisms in Wildby Carolyn Y. JohnsonBoston GlobeJuly 17th, 2014Scientists say that this use of the new gene-editing technology could lead to inadvertent species extinctions, new genes spreading through the environment in unexpected ways, and unforeseen ecological ripple effects.
C.D.C. Director Admits to Pattern of Unsafe Practicesby Denise GradyThe New York TimesJuly 16th, 2014Dr. Thomas Frieden admitted that recent laboratory accidents involving flu viruses and anthrax were not isolated mistakes, but part of a broader problem of unsafe practices at the agency.
Seralini Republished: Roundup-Ready GMO Maize Causes Serious Health Damageby Oliver TickellThe EcologistJune 25th, 2014A scientific study has been republished following its controversial retraction under strong commercial pressure.
Biotech Industry Cooks up PR Plans to Get us to Swallow Synthetic Biology Foodby Dana PerlsFood and Technology BlogMay 22nd, 2014Friends of the Earth exposes what was supposed to be a closed door and off-the-record industry meeting of some of the most powerful agribusiness, food and synthetic biology companies in the world.
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