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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.



Israeli Parents, Indian Surrogates, a Nepali Earthquake, and "Cheap White Eggs"by Diane Beeson, Biopolitical Times guest contributorFebruary 8th, 2016A recent Radiolab episode reveals rarely examined layers of complexity in the typically fairy-tale accounts of cross-border surrogacy.
Expert: Parents often won't take surrogate kids with defectsby Rod McGuirkAssociated PressFebruary 3rd, 2016Baby Gammy, left by intended parents with his poor surrogate mother in Thailand, was one of several cases of surrogate children abandoned, an expert told a parliamentary inquiry.
Video Review: Talking Biopolitics – A conversation with Paul Knoepfler and Nathaniel Comfortby Dr. Rebecca DimondBioNewsFebruary 1st, 2016"The discussion was timely, following the passing of legislation on mitochondrial donation in the UK in 2015, and amid current debates about gene-editing technologies, such as CRISPR."
A Monkey Circles in a Cageby Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesJanuary 29th, 2016Researchers created transgenic monkeys with a gene duplication associated with Rett Syndrome autism in humans, raising concerns of the limits and ethics of using animal models in biomedical research.
Jordan Middle School, other schools now up for renamingby Elena KadvanyPalo Alto WeeklyJanuary 13th, 2016Middle school students and their parents are objecting to their school being named for Stanford University founding president David Starr Jordan, because of his involvement in the eugenics movement.
The Third Rail of the CRISPR Moonshot: Minding the Germlineby Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesJanuary 13th, 2016Millions of dollars are flowing to biotech companies developing gene-editing therapies. Fortunately, most are publicly denouncing germline applications.
False Inevitabilities and Irrational Exuberanceby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJanuary 8th, 2016In the aftermath on December’s gene editing summit, disquieting themes have emerged in some mainstream media and science blogs.
Whiteness and “Making a Murderer”: Manitowoc, the “One-Branch Family Tree” and the Sinister Race Science of “Degenerate Whites”by Kate TuttleSalonJanuary 7th, 2016The Avery clan’s reputation as "trouble" echoes myths planted by inane, racist eugenicists in the early 1900s.
The problem with science journalism: we’ve forgotten that reality matters mostby Brooke BorelThe GuardianDecember 30th, 2015It is the reporter's job to maintain skepticism, look beyond hypotheses and data, find conflicts of interest, trace the money, look at power structures, and see who is excluded or marginalized.
Biopolitical News of 2015by Elliot Hosman, Pete Shanks & Marcy Darnovsky, Biopolitical TimesDecember 22nd, 2015We highlight 2015’s breaking news stories about human biotech developments.
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