In recent years a lot of different areas in genetic research have been debated in the mass media. On the one hand ethical problems with amniocenteses, potential risks with genetically modified crops, problems with biologist arguments in gender‐debates have been discussed for years. Other subjects, like chimera mice, designer babies and risks with stem cell therapy are on the other hand hidden in mass medial silence. How does that come?

In this paper I would like to discuss some explanations of why some scientific and technological issues become "hot stuff" in media, described as conflicts, while other subjects aren’t discussed at all, they become non‐conflicts. Since they have not been discussed, they haven’t either been exposed for the public "trial". This is the case in, for example, issues concerning stem cell therapy, transgenic animals and designer babies. These are examples of non‐existing, or chill, debates in Swedish mass media.

The explanations of how different debates emerge I will suggest are a) the starting point of a debate (cf. Ideland 2002a), b) what kinds of metaphors are used (cf. Haraway 2004, Martin 1994) and c) how expectations for medical cures are described (cf. Brown 2003).

The paper is based on results from projects concerning media debates on embryonic stem cell research (Ideland 2002a), gene technology (Ideland 2002b) and ethical evaluation of experimentation on transgenic animals (Ideland 2007).

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Mass medial silences on biotechnologies

Malin Ideland   Malmö University

In recent years a lot of different areas in genetic research have been debated in the mass media. On the one hand ethical problems with amniocenteses, potential risks with genetically modified crops, problems with biologist arguments in gender‐debates have been discussed for years. Other subjects, like chimera mice, designer babies and risks with stem cell therapy are on the other hand hidden in mass medial silence. How does that come?

In this paper I would like to discuss some explanations of why some scientific and technological issues become "hot stuff" in media, described as conflicts, while other subjects aren’t discussed at all, they become non‐conflicts. Since they have not been discussed, they haven’t either been exposed for the public "trial". This is the case in, for example, issues concerning stem cell therapy, transgenic animals and designer babies. These are examples of non‐existing, or chill, debates in Swedish mass media.

The explanations of how different debates emerge I will suggest are a) the starting point of a debate (cf. Ideland 2002a), b) what kinds of metaphors are used (cf. Haraway 2004, Martin 1994) and c) how expectations for medical cures are described (cf. Brown 2003).

The paper is based on results from projects concerning media debates on embryonic stem cell research (Ideland 2002a), gene technology (Ideland 2002b) and ethical evaluation of experimentation on transgenic animals (Ideland 2007).

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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