A Dozen Excellent 2017 Blog Posts

Biopolitical Times
Promotional header that reads "Top 12 blogs of 2017 from CGS' Biopolitical Times" in bold font. The CGS logo featuring three overlapping circles is pictured on the left.

Following a Biopolitical Times tradition, we present some of our favorite blog posts of the past year, this time in chronological order. For anyone foolish enough to keep score, September won, with three entries.

As always, the list is incomplete: It could have included humor about hype and, related but different, artificial intelligence; and also some serious discussion of stem-cell scams and rogue science; analysis of the role of intentions in evaluating research; and misrepresentations of surrogacy provoked by a certain pop-culture superstar.

We also want to showcase reviews of three important new books on assisted reproduction and biotechnology by by CGS Fellow Gina Maranto (1, 2, 3); an invitation by Miriam Zoll and Pamela Tsigdinos for in vitro fertilization children, parents, and providers to share their stories in 2018; and Tina Stevens’ account of a new biotech exhibit at a Berkeley science museum.

We thank all the contributors, both staff and guest contributors, and look forward to assembling an even wider range of posts in 2018. And we invite you to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Biopolitical Views & News, to keep up with our latest blog posts, CGS-authored commentary published elsewhere, and a selection of crucial news articles about human biotechnologies.

The Notable 12:

Opening the Door to Genetically Engineered Future Generations: How the NAS Report Ignores Widespread International Agreement
by Leah Lowthorp 
The report represents the first time that human germline modification has ever been given a green light, radically departing from a long-standing international consensus.

3-Person IVF: Putting the First Legal Genetic Modification of Babies in Context
by Jessica Cussins
A look back at some of the history, a discussion of global policy developments, and a rough framework for thinking about ethical considerations.

Why I’m speaking about human genetic engineering as a Black woman with disabilities
by Anita Cameron
Why it is important to incorporate discussions of human gene editing for reproduction into disability justice conversations today.

Why reproductive justice is essential to understanding gene editing
by Victoria Massie
Nourbese Flint, the program manager for Black Women for Wellness, discusses why reproductive justice activists need to be involved in discussions around gene editing.

The CSI Effect: How TV shapes DNA Forensics in the Courtroom
by Jonathan Chernoguz
Overconfidence in DNA, inspired by pop culture, leads to many innocent people being wrongfully convicted or jailed.

On Embryos and Spin 
by George Estreich
Media reports about CRISPR’d embryos too often mislead the public, and undermine our understandings of the implications of gene-editing technology.

California Plans Legislation to Compensate Sterilization Survivors
by Emily Galpern
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia and important allies will introduce a bill in 2018 to compensate survivors of California’s state-sponsored sterilization law.

How the Planet Hospital Case Offers a Nuanced Glimpse into Transnational Surrogacy
by Kayla Tolentino
Anthropologist Daisy Deomampo discusses how a controversial surrogacy agency facing fraud charges sheds light on many overlooked aspects of transnational surrogacy.

7 Questionable Claims in Reporting on Gene Editing Human Embryos
by Katie Hasson
It’s worth taking a moment to evaluate oft-repeated questionable claims made by journalists when reporting on the latest gene editing “breakthrough.”

How Bollywood Stars Are Shaping Assisted Reproduction in India
by Ayesha Chatterjee, Pop A.R.T. Guest Columnist
As more and more Bollywood stars turn to assisted reproductive techniques like surrogacy, popular attitudes in India towards these activities may shift.

Gene Drive Hits Speed Bump
by Pete Shanks
The much-touted techno-fix to the problem of invasive species is not ready for use, and not close. But it is still being promoted.

Nature, Nurture, and Assisted Reproduction: The Musings of a Comics Fan
by Silvia Yee, Pop A.R.T. Guest Columnist 
Should we hasten to a future in which our offspring can be the superheroes we dreamed of becoming when we read comics under the blankets with a flashlight? Before we do, let us consider again the notion that superheroes are born that way.

Also Considered:

Blinded by Bad Science and Bad Oversight
by Pete Shanks, April 6
There is something very wrong with using payoffs to hinder expert analysis of a scientific failure. Sadly, the cover-up of deaths and other serious injuries in medical experimentation has a long history.

Whatever Happened to #CRISPRfacts?
by Leah Lowthorp, July 31
Using humor and a hashtag to put CRISPR hype in its place.

Researchers Condemn Fertility Doctor’s Rogue Science 
by Leah Lowthorp, Sept 6
New York-based fertility doctor John Zhang is finally facing criticism from his peers for proceeding with the unapproved, controversial mitochondrial replacement technique in US and Mexico fertility clinics last year.

How Tabloids Use Kim Kardashian Rumors to Misrepresent Surrogacy
by Kayla Tolentino, October 6
Months after pop-culture superstar Kim Kardashian mentioned her interest in exploring surrogacy during the last season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, tabloids are pushing sensationalist stories that misrepresent how surrogacy actually works.

by Pete Shanks, April 6
There are genuine issues to discuss but sometimes the best way to handle outrageous fear-mongering is to laugh at it.

Editing Human Embryos for Research: Do Intentions Matter?
by Katie Hasson, September 29
While there are similarities between two recent papers on gene-edited human embryos published in Nature, the differences between them provide a glimpse into different approaches to gene editing research using human embryos, and the repercussions that could follow.