Notable Blog Posts in 2020

Biopolitical Times
2020 being dragged away

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Following a Biopolitical Times tradition, we present some of our favorite blog posts of the past year, in chronological order. Others can be found in CGS in 2020, in the section on “Responses to COVID and Uprisings against Racial Injustice” where issues brought into sharp focus by the pandemic are specifically discussed.

There are certainly many more posts worth your time, which can be found at the Biopolitical Times archive; scroll down and “VIEW MORE” as needed.

Thanks to all the guest writers, staff, and consultants who contributed. We look forward to publishing another wide range of voices in 2021.

The “Geneva Statement” Calls for Course Correction on Heritable Genome Editing
CGS Staff | 01.31.2020
Trends in Biotechnology published an important new statement authored by a group of 21 influential social scientists, ethicists, life scientists, policy experts, and public interest advocates from around the world, including CGS’ Katie Hasson, Marcy Darnovsky, and Osagie K. Obasogie.

Gene-Edited 'Haves' and 'Have-nots' at Davos
Pete Shanks | 02.10.2020
The Global Risks Report, prepared for this year’s World Economic Forum at Davos, added elite recognition to the alarms that CGS and many others have been sounding about human heritable genome editing.

Movie Review: Human Nature
Pete Shanks | 04.02.2020
This documentary is really three movies in one: a useful explanation of the gene-editing tool CRISPR; the engrossing personal stories of two young people adjusting to life with a genetic disease; and an unfortunately one-sided discussion of the ethics of heritable human genome editing.

The Scandal-Plagued Company behind Stranded Surrogacy Babies is Also Promoting a Controversial IVF Technique
Katie Hasson | 06.05.2020
This one clinic in Ukraine exemplifies many of the longstanding concerns about the international fertility and cross-border surrogacy industry, including the rapid commercialization of risky, untested, and highly controversial mitochondrial manipulation techniques.

“Disastrous” Embryo Editing Results Deliver “Restraining Order” for Heritable Genome Editing
Katie Hasson | 06.16.2020
Researchers in the UK find disturbing results for anyone intent on pursuing heritable human genome editing.

Book Review: Let There Be Life: An Intimate Portrait of Robert Edwards and His IVF Revolution
Gina Maranto | 07.20.2020
This self-published “intimate portrait” of Robert Edwards — British embryologist, IVF pioneer, Nobel prize-winner, and eugenicist — is an unfortunate hagiography.

Manufacturing Opinion: What’s Not to Like About a Perfect Technology? 
Pete Shanks | 08.25.2020
A survey by human germline editing advocates found some popular support — but it required heroic assumptions and a bit of spin.

Bioengineered Gametes: Techno-Liberation or Techno-Trap?
Marcy Darnovsky | 08.26.2020
Should we be eagerly anticipating the development of sperm and eggs manufactured from ordinary body cells? Or is this prospect an unlikely and high-risk technical solution in search of a problem?

Forced sterilization policies in the US targeted minorities and those with disabilities – and lasted into the 21st century
Alexandra Minna Stern | 09.09.2020
All forced sterilization campaigns have one thing in common. They involve dehumanizing a particular subset of the population deemed less worthy of reproduction and family formation, merging perceptions of disability with racism, xenophobia and sexism.

Genome-Edited Babies: The Latest Report and Reactions to It
Pete Shanks | 09.09.2020
A commission convened by US and UK scientific societies concludes that heritable human genome editing is not yet safe or effective, but maps the road to future uses.

Trump's “Racehorse Theory” and Why It Matters
Jonathan Kahn, Marcy Darnovsky, and Jonathan Marks | 10.05.2020
When Trump talks about his own and his supporters’ good genes, he is encouraging his followers to see certain others as having bad genes, or perhaps as “polluting” our body politic. This insidious idea has provided the foundation for some of the most unjust, repressive, and inhumane regimes in human history.

ICE Sterilizations Should Be a Wake-Up Call to California and its Governor
Emily Galpern, Alexandra Minna Stern, Laura Jiménez, Carly A. Myers, and Diana Block |  10.26.2020
Governor Newsom now has the opportunity to confront the state’s shameful legacy once and for all: the Governor must include the request to compensate survivors of forced sterilization in his upcoming January budget.

Surrogacy: New Challenges to Law and Ethics
Donna Dickenson | 12.08.2020
In the case of surrogacy, it is not new biotechnologies themselves that have challenged well-established principles in law and ethics, but rather a range of political and social phenomena. A special issue of The New Bioethics explores some of the ways these pressures challenge existing law and ethics of surrogacy arrangements, giving rise to new legal initiatives and controversies in countries around the world.