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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.



FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancementby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesNovember 12th, 2014The documentary produced and directed by Regan Brashear is receiving a new round of well-deserved positive attention around the world.
A Season of Surrogacy Scandalsby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesOctober 16th, 2014The summer and fall of 2014 have been a season of surrogacy scandals in many countries.
Egg freezing poses health risks to women[Press statement]October 15th, 2014Facebook and Apple’s egg freezing “benefit” is ill-advised for multiple reasons
Let's Play God (or not)by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 14th, 2014Reason magazine earns points for honesty about wanting to use gene drives to "play God" — and for editing skills.
Stem Cells for Diabetes: The Danger of the Word ‘Cure’by Paul KnoepflerKnoepfler Lab Stem Cell BlogOctober 13th, 2014Newspapers around the world widely exaggerated the potential impact of the recently reported production of insulin-secreting cells from human embryonic stem cells.
Stem Cell Treatments Surging Into Clinicby Bradley J. FikesUT San DiegoOctober 7th, 2014How the government, insurers and patients would pay for very expensive new stem cell therapies drew the attention of more than 700 biomedical and health-care executives at the 2014 Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa.
Hwang Woo-suk Reaches the Silver Screenby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesOctober 2nd, 2014A new movie opening in Korea is explicitly about how the notorious cloning and stem-cell fraud was revealed, though the names of the principals have been changed.
Setting the Record Straightby Daniel CossinsThe ScientistOctober 1st, 2014Scientists are taking to social media to challenge weak research, share replication attempts in real time, and counteract hype. Will this online discourse enrich the scientific process?
The Troubling Persistence of Eugenicist Thought in Modern America by Michael Brendan DoughertyThe WeekSeptember 30th, 2014We no longer talk of "unfit" children, but we'll still destroy them in the name of quality of life.
Should You Freeze Your Eggs?by Robin Marantz HenigSlateSeptember 30th, 2014An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
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