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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.



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.
'No solid evidence' for IVF add-on successby Deborah CohenBBC PanoramaNovember 28th, 2016Year-long Oxford study finds that nearly all costly add-on treatments offered by UK fertility clinics are unreliable, misleading, and risky.
Why the Deaf Community Fears President Trumpby Sara NovicVICENovember 18th, 2016The new administration may potentially resurface the eugenics movement and erase the public safety net that has taken decades to build.
Palo Alto committee debates whether Jordan school should keep its eugenicist namesakeby Jacqueline LeeSan Jose Mercury NewsNovember 17th, 2016David Starr Jordan, Stanford University’s first president, believed the human race could be improved through selective reproduction, including forced sterilization.
Seeding Doubt: How Self-Appointed Guardians of “Sound Science” Tip the Scales Toward Industryby Liza GrossThe InterceptNovember 15th, 2016Sense About Science has downplayed concerns about industry-funded research and promoted science that favors private interests over public health.
Stem Cell Researchers Anxious About Trump Presidencyby Gillian MohneyABC NewsNovember 11th, 2016Mike Pence opposes federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. But reintroducing a funding ban "would be like putting a genie back in the bottle."
13 Urgent Science and Health Issues the Candidates Have Not Been Talking Aboutby C.U.N.Y. Graduate School of JournalismScientific AmericanNovember 3rd, 2016The prospect of genetically enhanced humans is looming, but has remained unaddressed during this election season.
"Personalized nutrition" isn’t going to solve our diet problemsby Julia BelluzVoxNovember 2nd, 2016The trend of looking at DNA to "revolutionize" health lacks scientific backing and threatens to obscure environmental influences.
Male birth control shot found effective, but side effects cut study shortby Susan ScuttiCNNNovember 1st, 2016Study's findings draw concern over whether contraceptive benefits outweigh the risks for men and women (which could be fatal).
Colin Kaepernick’s 'I Know My Rights Camp' cements his status as a cultural superhero in the black communityby Shaun KingNew York Daily News October 29th, 2016NFL player Colin Kaepernick distributed DNA ancestry tests at a "Know My Rights" youth camp in Oakland, citing their reconciliation value.
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