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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.



Good Eggs, Bad Sperm and Terrible Journalismby Kirsty OswaldBioNewsMarch 2nd, 2015What a shame that by repackaging the findings to appeal to the mainstream press the true relevance of this research has been overlooked.
Of Clocks and Mammoths: The Pitch for De-Extinctionby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorFebruary 9th, 2015De-extinction raises a host of questions: ethical, practical, philosophical. But for advocates, there’s a rhetorical question as well: How do you persuade a lay audience to support the project?
Precision Medicine in Contextby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 5th, 2015President Obama's proposal for a Precision Medicine Initiative – which echoes President Nixon's "War on Cancer" – should start a conversation that includes lots of questions.
US Precision-Medicine Proposal Sparks Questionsby Sara ReardonNatureJanuary 22nd, 2015President Obama announced a "Precision Medicine Initiative" in his State of the Union address, but the White House is remaining tight-lipped about the details.
Cell Free DNA Screening is not a Simple Blood TestSociety for Maternal Fetal MedicineDecember 18th, 2014By its very nature, a screening test does not tell with 100% certainty whether or not a fetus will be affected by a given disorder.
Study Points to Press Releases as Sources of Hypeby Chris WoolstonNature NewsDecember 12th, 2014Scientists, press officers and journalists online are pointing fingers in light of a paper that traces the origins of exaggerated claims in health news.
The NFL Has a Problem with Stem Cell Treatmentsby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewDecember 10th, 2014Professional athletes are getting injections of stem cells to speed up recovery from injury. Critics call it a high-tech placebo.
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
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