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Stem Cells in the Media: the Emergence of Public Understanding of a New Technology

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Murad, A. Najib and Bower, D. Jane and Sulej, Julian C. (2006) Stem Cells in the Media: the Emergence of Public Understanding of a New Technology. In: The 14th Annual High Technology Small Firms Conference : May 11-13, 2006 + May 10, 2006 Doctoral Workshop, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands., 10 May 2006 - 13 May 2006, Enschede, The Netherlands .

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Event: The 14th Annual High Technology Small Firms Conference : May 11-13, 2006 + May 10, 2006 Doctoral Workshop, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands., 10 May 2006 - 13 May 2006, Enschede, The Netherlands
Abstract:The failure of the introduction to Europe of GM foods illustrates how negative public perception of a novel technology can block the development of new products and services in spite of major corporate and governmental investment. Stem cell technology is a novel technology which holds out the promise of improved treatments for many major diseases. However stem cell research is a highly controversial area of life science. This is mainly due to the use of human embryos, which are one of the sources of stem cells. This has created barriers to the technology in many countries. (Cheshire, 2004; Nisbet, 2004; Knowles, 2004) but not, thus far, in the United Kingdom (UK), which has been at the forefront of the research with many scientific breakthroughs in the field of stem cells and cloning (Pfeifer, 2005; Sample, 2005). This paper analyses media coverage of stem cells in the USA and the UK as an indicator of how, over a period of time, specific events may impact on the public discussion of a new technology and may ultimately affect public perceptions. The period covered in this study, from 1 May 2004 to 30 April 2005, was selected because it coincided with the run-up to the US Presidential Election where stem cells became an election issue (Hanson, 2004; Primack, 2004; Fox, 2004). The study found that the media during this period were focusing on economic opportunity and prospect rather than ethical issues associated with stem cell research. This differed considerably from the emphasis of media discussion of genetically modified (GM) foods during the previous decade which was associated with public unease and widespread concern particularly in Europe (Martin & Tait, 1992; Krimsky, 1998; Miller, 1999; Tait, 1999; Bower, 2005)
Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/proceedings/149
Organisation URL:http://www.utwente.nl/bms/nikos/
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