Peer-reviewed commentary is published on the biased media reporting about the ruling
Below is the abstract of an important new peer-reviewed paper from Dr Eva Gelinsky of Critical Scientists Switzerland and Dr Angelika Hilbeck of ETH Zurich. The title, "European Court of Justice ruling regarding new genetic engineering methods scientifically justified: a commentary on the biased reporting about the recent ruling", is self-explanatory. The article itself (which is open access) is very readable.
"Science journalists should critically follow and report about the research findings and their limitations. However, in practice, we are recognising biased reporting where science journalists are becoming advocates of the genetic engineers’ ‘grand hope’ narratives, containing a series of articles conveying enthusiastic stories and narratives of genetic engineers. Instead of rigorous scientific analysis of whether and how the findings emerging from basic science fields such as evolutionary biology, genetics, and epigenetics can be brought in line with the highly reductionistic and deterministic understanding of the DNA-centred paradigm prevailing in the circles of biotechnology engineers, blame is being placed on those who advocate — based on scientific evidence — for stringent regulations and biosafety research. We believe that this development must be resolutely opposed."
European Court of Justice ruling regarding new genetic engineering methods scientifically justified: a commentary on the biased reporting about the recent ruling
Eva Gelinsky and Angelika Hilbeck
Environmental Sciences Europe 2018 30:52
Published: 20 December 2018
https://enveurope.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s12302-018-0182-9 (open access)
In July 2018, the European Court of Justice (Case C-528/16) ruled that organisms obtained by directed mutagenesis techniques are to be regarded as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within the meaning of Directive 2001/18. The ruling marked the next round of the dispute around agricultural genetic engineering in Europe. Many of the pros and cons presented in this dispute are familiar from the debate around the first generation of genetic engineering techniques. The current wave of enthusiasm for the new genetic engineering methods, with its claim to make good on the failed promises of the previous wave, seems to point more to an admission of failure of the last generation of genetic engineering than to a true change of paradigm. Regulation is being portrayed as a ban on research and use, which is factually incorrect, and the judges of the European Court of Justice are being defamed as espousing “pseudoscience”. Furthermore, this highly polarised position dominates the media reporting of the new techniques and the court’s ruling. Advocates of the new genetic engineering techniques appear to believe that their benefits are so clear that furnishing reliable scientific evidence is unnecessary. Meanwhile, critics who believe that the institution of science is in a serious crisis are on the increase not just due to the cases of obvious documented scientific misconduct by companies and scientists, but also due to the approach of dividing the world into those categorically for or against genetic engineering. In this construct of irreconcilable opposites, differentiations fall by the wayside. This article is a response to this one-sided and biased reporting, which often has the appearance of spin and lacks journalistic ethics that require journalists to report on different positions in a balanced and factual manner instead of taking positions and becoming undeclared advocates themselves.