Council for Responsible Genetics

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The Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG) is a non-profit NGO with a focus on biotechnology.

History[edit]

The Council for Responsible Genetics was founded in 1983 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

An early voice concerned about the social and ethical implications of modern genetic technologies, CRG organized a 1985 Congressional Briefing and a 1986 panel of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, both focusing on the potential dangers of genetically engineered biological weapons.[1] Francis Boyle was asked to draft legislation setting limits on the use of genetic engineering, leading to the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.[2]

CRG was the first organization to compile documented cases of genetic discrimination, laying the intellectual groundwork for the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).[1]

The organization created both a Genetic Bill of Rights and a Citizen's Guide to Genetically Modified Food. Also notable are CRG's support for the "Safe Seeds Campaign" (for avoiding gene flow from genetically engineered to non-GE seed) and the organization of a US conference on Forensic DNA Databanks and Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System.[1] In 2010 CRG led a successful campaign to roll back a controversial student genetic testing program at the University of California, Berkeley.[3] In 2011, CRG led a campaign to successfully enact [CalGINA]in California which extended genetic privacy and nondiscrimination protections to life, disability and long term care insurance, mortgages, lending and other areas.

CRG has issued five anthologies of commentaries, one edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Peter Shorett entitled Rights and Liberties in the Biotech Age.,[1] a second entitled Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth and Culture.[1] a third entitled Genetic Explanations: Sense and Nonsense edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber.[1] a fourth entitled Biotechnology in our Lives edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber.[1] and most recently The GMO Deception edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber.[1]

Principles and projects[edit]

CRG "fosters public debate about the social, ethical and environmental implications of genetic technologies." They list three central principles:[1]

  • The public must have access to clear and understandable information on technological innovations.
  • The public must be able to participate in public and private decision making concerning technological developments and their implementation.
  • New technologies must meet social needs. Problems rooted in poverty, racism, and other forms of inequality, according to CRG, cannot be remedied by technology alone.
Selected Issues
Cloning and Human Genetic Manipulation
Women and Biotechnology
Genetic Testing, Privacy and Discrimination
Biotechnology and Agriculture
Biowarfare
Genetic determinism

In 2007, CRG hosted a retreat to refresh the mission statement and determine goals for the future of the organization. The outcome was that CRG should:

  • Explore and document developments in biotechnology through a holistic approach that considers science within a social, cultural, ethical, and environmental context.[who said this?]
  • Serve as a global knowledge resource, providing information and education about the potential impact of new and emerging biotechnologies.[who said this?]
  • Develop concrete policy solutions to address what CRG feels are emerging issues in biotechnology.[who said this?]
  • Mobilize and collaborate with scientists and other organizations to inform the public and promote democratic control of science.[who said this?]
  • Expose what CRG views as over-simplified and distorted claims regarding the role of genetics in human disease, development and behavior.[who said this?]
Current Projects Description
Genetic Bill of Rights a set of guidelines to aid in the understanding of CRG's viewpoint on the ethical, legal, social, and environmental implications of biotechnology, meant to foster discussion on the values CRG feels are at risk due to advancing genetic technologies
Race and Genetics a project including briefing papers and community workshops on various areas where race and genetics intersect, such as racialized medicine, race in science, and racial profiling in DNA databases
Gene Myths a series of articles disputing what CRG feels are exaggerated and misrepresented ideas about the power of genetic technologies
Forensic DNA a discussion on the use and regulation of forensic DNA databases with concern for privacy and civil rights

GeneWatch[edit]

The CRG publishes GeneWatch, America's first and (according to CRG in 2009) only magazine dedicated to monitoring biotechnology's social, ethical and environmental consequences. The publication covers a broad spectrum of issues, from genetically modified food to biological weapons, genetic privacy and discrimination, reproductive technology, and human cloning.[1] The publication won the Utne Independent Press Award for General Excellence in the category of newsletters in 2006.[4]

People[edit]

Staff
[1]
  • Sam Anderson, Editor of GeneWatch
  • Jeremy Gruber, President and Executive Director
  • Sheila Sinclair, Operations and Projects Manager
  • Kathleen Sloan, CRG Conference Coordinator
  • Andrew D. Thibedeau, JD, Senior Fellow
Board of directors
[1]
Former board members
[5]

Funding[edit]

A major source of CRG's funding is the Ford Foundation, which provided $420,000 in grants during 2005-2007.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]