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Beyond Bioethics: Groundbreaking Proposal on Human Biotech Policy

Genetic Crossroads
November 15th, 2006

Beyond Bioethics: A Proposal for Modernizing the Regulation of Human Biotechnologies by Francis Fukuyama and Franco Furger (The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC, 471 pp)

Francis Fukuyama and Franco Furger have just released the most comprehensive analysis and set of recommendations on governance of human biotechnologies in the United States that has been prepared to date. They call for establishing a new federal human biotechnology regulatory structure modeled on those already in place in the United Kingdom, France, Canada and other countries. This is the approach, they argue convincingly, that will allow us to realize the benefits of the new human biotechnologies while ensuring that they are not used in ways that undermine the human nature that we share and that undergirds human values, behaviors and institutions.

Beyond Bioethics begins with a review of the many controversial technologies now in use or in the pipeline, including stem cell and cloning research, sex selection, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, the creation of human-animal chimeras, and germline modification. It continues with a discussion of ethical principles, an analysis of current policies in the U.S. and other countries, a detailed review of public opinion, an analysis of approaches to ensuring public accountability in federal regulatory decisions, and an extensive appendix.

Fukuyama has long been regarded as a neoconservative, but in fact his politics appear to be more complex. In 1990 he joined left liberals including Betty Friedan and Harvey Cox in signing the Responsive Community Platform authored by communitarian Amitai Etzioni. He supports abortion rights. He broke with President Bush over the war in Iraq in 2004, and earlier this year publicly repudiated the neo-conservative movement itself. He's able to talk with constituencies that rarely do much talking together. His colleague Franco Furger is a policy analyst based in Lucerne, Switzerland, and has a background in environmental policy and economic sociology.

The stem cell wars have been a divisive and unproductive contest between two polarized minorities: religious conservatives who believe that all embryo research should be banned, and scientists and biotech industry lobbies that resist even reasonable public oversight and regulation. But the majority of Americans support a more ethically nuanced middle ground. They are willing to support some forms of human embryo research, but are not about to turn the future of the human species over to celebrity scientists or the biotech industry. Beyond Bioethics points the way to the sorts of policies and regulatory structures that the majority of Americans should be able to support.

Obtain a free PDF of the report or purchase a hard copy here.


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