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Activity: genetic engineering in the media

Not many members of the public are scientists, and so they often don’t have a full understanding of scientific issues. Instead, much of their understanding of subjects such as genetically engineered crops comes from the media. Unfortunately, what you might read in a newspaper isn’t always exactly accurate, either through accident (journalists usually aren’t scientists and might not fully understand what they are writing about) or design (journalists have an opinion and are trying to persuade their readers that it’s the right one).

Now that you know more about genetic engineering, you should be able to analyse a story to see if it is backed up by scientific fact. Chose a story to look at in more detail – either from the links below or by searching for one on the internet – and use what you now know about genetic engineering to decide if each point is fairly made. If you aren’t sure if a point is supported by fact, you should be able to find an authoritative source on the internet to check: the BBC and New Scientist are usually good at accurately reporting science fact; or you could check the website of the Science Media Centre, which provides journalists with scientific information and quotations from science experts.

If you had to re-write your chosen story, would you make any changes?

The Telegraph

The Mail

The Guardian

New York Times

New Scientist