September 24, 2004

Arch-BioLuddite Richard Hayes defines CybDem Mission

[via James Hughes/Cyborg Democracy] In the transcript of the conference on Inequality, Democracy and the New Human Biotechnologies (July 15, 2004 - New York) Richard Hayes, the Co-Director of the Center for Genetics and Society with Marcy Darnovsky said:"...the most well organized constituencies active on human genetic issues are in fact the biotech interests on the one hand and the religious conservatives on the other. In that sense, the polarized framing adopted by the press is accurate. The terrible consequence of this is that if these two polarized constituencies or points of view remain the only choices available then liberal and progressive voices, when compelled to enter the policy arena, if forced to choose between the two, are going to go with the biotechnology industry.... it is imperative that third voice enter the fate. This is a voice that isn't necessarily opposed to all human genetic technologies, nor necessarily opposed to human embryo research in any absolutist sense, but is very concerned about the social, economic and political implications of these technologies and would certainly not want to trust genetic future of the human species to research scientists and biotechnology companies.

So what is to be done? We need new initiatives within existing liberal and progressive organizations and we need new organizations to take these issues and put them on the public agenda in a new and compelling way. We need visionaries in the philanthropic community to support such efforts. Domestically and internationally we need new levels awareness, commitment, and engagement - in short, a new social movement - to ensure that the new human biotechnologies support rather then subvert deeply held commitments to equality, democracy and social justice. The hour is late. There's no greater challenge. Golly - couldn't agree with you more. So if any of those visionaries in the philanthropic community, who aren't already underwriting CGS' $800,000 annual budget, wanna gimme a call. The WTA budget is precisely 1% the size of CGS'. Or maybe we should have lunch Richard?

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