The representation of synthetic biology in the Dutch media
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Synthetic biology is a relatively new field of research. The promises are big and could have a lot of impact on people’s lives. Therefore, people should feel empowered to have dialogue about upcoming issues, so they can act as responsible citizens when necessary. Dialogue about science is important, as we learned from past experiences with the biotechnology debate. It is thus of interest to look at what the current dialogue is about synthetic biology, because this knowledge could be used to understand main topics and to pinpoint possible problems, which in turn could help to empower people in social dialogue. Since the media is the main source of scientific information people have, and since the media can greatly influence the opinions and views of people, this study aimed to map the representation of synthetic biology in the Dutch media. This was done by analyzing media items from newspapers, television and radio. Additional information came from interviewing experts. It was found that the media mainly emphasize the progress that developments in synthetic biology could bring in the future, while there is barely focus on current developments or applications. The media pay attention to the risks and ethical questions as well, but even though these aspects come forward, there is hardly any elaboration on them. When empowering people for dialogue, there should be more emphasis on current developments and more elaboration on risks and ethics. More different topics should come forward as well and nuances within these topics should be made, so people can get empowered in the best possible way.