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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.



Public policy must address technology’s impact[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by John M. HeinThe Sacramento BeeAugust 13th, 2016“We need to develop habits of mind, or habits of social interaction, that will allow for some very robust public participation on the use of these powerful technologies,” says Marcy Darnovsky.
Finding Good Pain Treatment Is Hard. If You’re Not White, It’s Even Harder.by Abby GoodnoughThe New York TimesAugust 9th, 2016Researchers have found evidence of racial bias and stereotyping in recognizing and treating pain among people of color, particularly black patients.
Human Gene Editing: A Timeline of CRISPR Cover StoriesWith recent gene editing tools, a number of high-profile media are featuring CRISPR on their covers and front pages. We gather highlights since early 2015, along with opinion polls, TV shows, and editorial board statements.
To Err is Biotechnological: Reflections on Pew’s Human Enhancement Surveyby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 9th, 2016Biotechnologies aimed at human enhancement come with a guaranteed set of deficits, inadequacies, inconveniences, and risks.
Do Olympians Have Better Genes Than You And Me?by Christina FarrFast CompanyAugust 6th, 2016Genetic tests aimed at discerning the genetic basis for athletic ability could be used coercively, and are undermined by important environmental factors.
The Human Egg Business: More Media Coverage of California Cash-for-Eggs Legislation[citing CGS]by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportAugust 5th, 2016AB2531 is backed by the fertility industry and would remove caps on payments for egg retrieval to induce women to gamble with their health.
Questions about Deaths in Cancer Trials using Gene-Altered Cellsby Katherine DrabiakBiopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 5th, 2016Excitement about immunotherapy and gene therapy approaches to cancer has eclipsed ethical questions about seven recent deaths in clinical trials.
NY Times: Fresh and Major Attention to Immunotherapy and Cancerby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJuly 31st, 2016The New York Times unveiled a dramatic special report on gene therapy and immunotherapy to treat cancer.
The Direct-to-Consumer Stem Cell Industry in the USby Pete ShanksJuly 15th, 2016There are more stem-cell clinics than anyone suspected, and it’s not clear that they are operating with proper supervision.
Debating CRISPR for Reproduction | Expanding CA's Market in Eggs? | Scrutiny of US Stem Cell ClinicsOur monthly newsletter Biopolitical Views & News rounds up our commentary and recent news stories. Here's the August issue!
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