How does the world view Biotechnology? My previous understanding to this question has been not very well. Now I have been presented with the opportunity to somewhat research how various sources view Biotechnology? My findings were mixed however and mostly based upon by the source depicting the article. I found two varying articles by two very different sources. One source was from a (CBS) article, while the other source was from Scientific American. After reviewing these two articles, I found that depending on the type of media, the views on Biotechnology can be on opposite sides of the spectrum.
The CBS article was on Restaurants Say No to Biotech Seafood. This article was printed in 2002 and in fact there was a whole series of websites with restaurants that posed the same view. This view behind genetically engineered seafood was stated boldly in the first sentence of the article. “The idea of genetically engineered seafood is leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths.” The article goes on to say that approximately two hundred or so restaurants have decided to not allow any type or form of genetically engineered seafood into their restaurants.
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What bothered me the most about this article was on how one sided it was. CBS used an executive chef of New York restaurant Le Bernadin as their major proponent against genetically engineered seafood. The backing not to use genetically engineered seafood was a quote from the chef from New York who said, “Scientists and corporations are playing with genetics without knowing the consequences.” That quote was all CBS used. No scientific background on how genetically engineered food has ever caused people to become sick or ill, nothing. Why would I support this view solely based on one chef’s statement? Why did they not use a scientist who would give a more substantial unbiased opinion? Could this be because CBS wants the general public to frown on genetically engineered foods?
The voice of support for genetically engineered came from a Vice President of Aqua Bounty, a company that sells genetically engineered fish. He states that concerning the FDA that, “What’s disappointing is that their objective here is to avoid finding out the facts and this is tantamount to prior restraint.” I found this very interesting that there was no more said on the issue other than how the genetically engineered salmon with high hormones could possibly breed with unaltered salmon and create weird genetic mutations of offspring. The ending to this article left me with more questions than answers.
This article was based on two very weak quotes from both sides of this issue of genetically engineered salmon. Neither substantially based on the source. There was more of a reason to believe the view expressed by the Vice President rather than the chef; because his was statement was not just an open opinion. I feel most of the general public would view this article on the side that genetically engineered seafood is a very bad thing. The majority of the beginning into close to the end of the article was all negative. How else would most of the general public view this article, but negatively?
My second article was from the Scientific American. The article was entitled Innocence Lost and was on biotechnology needing to be protected from falling into the wrong hands. From the opening paragraph, I could tell that there was a huge difference on how biotechnology was portrayed. In this article there were more facts and not random quotes stating one sides view. This article was more open to both sides, stating the importance of biotechnology. There was more of a reverenced theme and not hidden fear on what lurks behind biotechnology’s doors.
The main body of this article was based on biological weapons and how if Biotechnology advancements could fall into the wrong hands, bad things could take place. This article discusses how biotechnology is rapidly evolving. “You can now finish before lunch projects that use to consume a Ph.D. thesis, says Gigi Kwik, a fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies.” This statement demonstrates the potential for biotechnology “to continue to speed up and shrink down and automate the work of genetically engineering microorganisms.” Meaning that if these incredible machines or technology was to fall into the wrong hands, Anthrax could appear like the common cold.
This article discusses that since October of 2002, it is illegal to possess any biological agent without a research or medical excuse. Another interesting point made in this article was that Allergan, a biotech firm, paid a settlement of $824,000 in 1998 for making 412 shipments of botulinum toxin to customers all around the world. However, there is no special license to sell DNA synthesizers and sequencers and other automated machines that could easily enhance a countries ability to genetically engineer certain microorganisms. The article goes on to explain the need for further development and discussion to take place in order for the safety of continued growth in the biotechnology field to be safeguarded.
I thoroughly enjoyed the view that was given by the Scientific American. I feel the general public would be more informed and less swayed on the aspects of Biotechnology. These articles helped me understand the importance of not just taking the word of one article, but to collect my own opinion with several different sources. Only then can the public truly be informed and not mislead. Biotechnology is certainly viewed in several different lights and I feel more often than not the view is negative. Why is still a question left to be answered? What benefits do the media have in portraying a topic in a certain way? Is it sometimes just for the number of sales $? I feel it is unfortunate that most of the media today is biased and that all the sides to the story are not always told. This certainly accounts for the perception that most of the public has on a certain issue and why Biotechnology is viewed the way that it is.
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