When looking at opinion polls, one can see a clear  distinction between attitudes  towards reproductive  cloning,green and red biotechnology. Where red biotechnology is considered useful and benevolent,  green biotechnology and reproductive cloning are seen as dangerous and unnecessary.  With our research, we wanted to find out if there were possible parallels in the popular  press. This would also mean that for the first time,  data from non-elite press were used in research considering the representation of biotechnology.In the first stage of our research, we selected all articles within a five-year range from the three most popular Flemish newspapers that dealt with biotechnology, and encoded them. The selection of the newspapers was based on the most recent CIM-numbers. The results indicated a clearly distinct discourse for the green biotechnology, red biotechnology  and reproductive cloning-themes. Issues on green biotechnology and reproductive cloning were clearly portrayed in a more negative way than red biotechnology,  where the ‘good news’-articles clearly  outnumbered the rest.An interesting find however was the fact that the negativity  of the articles on green biotechnology and reproductive cloning was not due to the mentioning of risks. Both themes still  possessed more  benefits than risks, although   in smaller amount than with red biotechnology. The negativity  thus was not based upon facts.This lead to the second stage of our research: a metaphor-analysis of  all the articles. Here we found that for specific biotechnology-terms, like  cloning, a specific set of metaphors was almost  consequently used. In the case of green biotechnology and reproductive cloning, most of the metaphors used had strong negative connotations, whereas this wasn’t the case with red biotechnology

">
 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Biotech, public opinion and the popular press
Frankenstein's copycat soldiers at war?

Schuurman, D   University of Ghent, Belgium

Maeseele, P   University of Ghent, Belgium

Verstraeten, H.   University of Ghent, Belgium

When looking at opinion polls, one can see a clear  distinction between attitudes  towards reproductive  cloning,green and red biotechnology. Where red biotechnology is considered useful and benevolent,  green biotechnology and reproductive cloning are seen as dangerous and unnecessary.  With our research, we wanted to find out if there were possible parallels in the popular  press. This would also mean that for the first time,  data from non-elite press were used in research considering the representation of biotechnology.In the first stage of our research, we selected all articles within a five-year range from the three most popular Flemish newspapers that dealt with biotechnology, and encoded them. The selection of the newspapers was based on the most recent CIM-numbers. The results indicated a clearly distinct discourse for the green biotechnology, red biotechnology  and reproductive cloning-themes. Issues on green biotechnology and reproductive cloning were clearly portrayed in a more negative way than red biotechnology,  where the ‘good news’-articles clearly  outnumbered the rest.An interesting find however was the fact that the negativity  of the articles on green biotechnology and reproductive cloning was not due to the mentioning of risks. Both themes still  possessed more  benefits than risks, although   in smaller amount than with red biotechnology. The negativity  thus was not based upon facts.This lead to the second stage of our research: a metaphor-analysis of  all the articles. Here we found that for specific biotechnology-terms, like  cloning, a specific set of metaphors was almost  consequently used. In the case of green biotechnology and reproductive cloning, most of the metaphors used had strong negative connotations, whereas this wasn’t the case with red biotechnology

[PDF 293.84 kB]Download the full paper (PDF 293.84 kB)

BACK TO TOP