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About Media Coverage & Human Biotechnology


Until a few years ago, human biotechnologies were rarely discussed in the popular media. Now magazine covers, television shows, newspaper headlines and front-page articles showcase their development and the controversies surrounding them.

This increased coverage is welcome; sunlight can be a good disinfectant. Nevertheless, mainstream media coverage has been inadequate or misleading in several regards.

Too often it prematurely celebrates new techniques as "breakthroughs" or "medical miracles," even when they are preliminary and unconfirmed. This is particularly dangerous in a growing culture of "science by press release," where fantastic findings are often later debunked (with less fanfare) by peer review. Also, the press rarely scrutinizes scientists' and bioethicists' statements, actions, or potential conflicts of interest with the same rigor they bring to reports about other public figures.

Lastly, too few media accounts make clear the full import of what's at stake. Excitement about possible new medical therapies tends to drown out consideration of undesirable prospects including genetic discrimination, increased health inequalities, and the misuse of human biotechnologies.



Obama vs. Trump: 5 ways they clash — or don’t — on health and scienceby Dylan ScottSTATJanuary 9th, 2017While Trump might play some wild cards in medicine, science, and public health, there may be some surprising continuity with President Obama’s administration.
Four Steps Forward, One Leap Back on Global Governance of Synthetic Biologyby ETC GroupETC GroupDecember 19th, 2016196 countries meeting at the UN Convention on Biodiversity grappled with how synthetic biology and other risky technologies threaten biodiversity, local economies, and the rights of farmers and Indigenous Peoples.
Comment on UK Decision to Move Ahead with “3-Person IVF”[Press statement]December 15th, 2016The decision is part of a disturbing trend toward the normalization of an experimental technology that is still widely considered unsafe, and whose implications for future generations are unknown.
Biopolitical News of 2016by Pete Shanks, Leah Lowthorp & Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 13th, 2016We highlight 2016’s trends in and top news stories about human biotech developments.
Slippery Slopes and Biological Curve Balls: Updates on 3-person IVFby Leah LowthorpBiopolitical TimesDecember 13th, 2016There have been several recent setbacks and troubling developments in 3-person IVF technology and applications.
With 21st Century Cures Act, the Future of Regenerative Medicine Is “Inject and See”by Megan MoltenWiredDecember 13th, 2016Critics say it’s deregulation in sheep’s clothing — and worry that both science and patients will suffer.
Why the hype around medical genetics is a public enemyby Nathaniel ComfortAeonDecember 12th, 2016The progress of science is the steady realisation of how little we actually know. The more we, the public, understand that, the more we will see through the hype.
Exclusive: Mexico clinic plans 20 ‘three-parent’ babies in 2017by Michael Le PageNew ScientistDecember 9th, 2016Mexico has no specific regulations governing mitochondrial replacement or assisted reproduction.
NY senator from LI introduces ‘familial DNA’ legislationby Chau LamNewsdayDecember 9th, 2016Critics of familial DNA searches point to high rates of false positives, invasion of privacy, and racial disparities.
Trump, Science and Social Justiceby Pete ShanksDecember 8th, 2016President-elect Trump's appointments, so far, are frightening to anyone who cares about science, or social, economic and environmental justice.
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