Biotechnology and communication in democratic societies: Old challenges for a new era


Biotechnological research has made significant progress; however, some of its results are controversial because of their health and environmental risks, and these limit their application because of the precautionary measures applied to them. The dissemination and communication of information about biotechnology is now more necessary than ever to spread knowledge about innovations clearly, rigorously, and comprehensibly. At the same time, we must also inform about the certainties, uncertainties, and potential conflicts of interest these technologies pose in order to properly disseminate the available scientific evidence and promote autonomous, free, and informed decision-making: a key objective in any democratic society. 


science law; popularisation; science communication; journalism; biotechnology

Full Text:



  • Constitución española, de 29 de diciembre. (1978). Retrieved from

  • Calvo Hernando, M. (1999). El nuevo periodismo de la ciencia. Mexico: Ediciones Ciespal. 

  • Chueca, R. (Dir.). (2013). La investigación científica como derecho fundamental. Granada: Editorial Comares.

  • Deer, B. (2011). How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed. British Medical Journal, 342, c5347. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c5347 

  • De Semir, V., & Revuelta, G. (2005). El Dr. Hwang y el clon que nunca existió. Quark, 37–38, 105–123. 

  • European Commission. (2010). Special Eurobarometer. Biotechnology. Brussels: TNS Opinion & Social. Retrieved from 

  • Fundación BBVA. (2012). Estudio internacional de cultura científica de la Fundación BBVA. Retrieved from 

  • Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología. (2017). VIII Encuesta de percepción social de la ciencia, 2017. Madrid: Editorial MIC. Retrieved from

  • Gaskell, G. (2000). Agricultural biotechnology and public attitudes in the European Union. AgBioForum, 3(2&3), 87–96. Retrieved from 

  • Hwang, W. S., Ryu, Y. J., Park, J. H., Park, E. S., Lee, E. G., Koo, J. M., … Moon, S. Y. (2004). Evidence of a pluripotent human embryonic stem cell line derived from a cloned blastocyst. Science, 303(5664), 1669–1674. doi: 10.1126/science.1094515 (Retracted in 2006, Science, 311(5759), 335. doi: 10.1126/science.1124926).

  • Jaunmuktane, Z., Mead, S., Ellis, M., Wadsworth, J. D. F., Nicoll, A. J., Kenny, J., … Brandner, S. (2015). Evidence for human transmission of amyloid-β pathology and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. Nature, 525, 247–250. doi: 10.1038/nature15369

  • Ley 14/2011, de 1 de junio, de la Ciencia, la Tecnología y la Innovación (2011). Retrieved from 9617-consolidado.pdf

  • Muñoz, E. (2002, 30 May). La cultura científica, la percepción pública y el caso de la biotecnología. Seminar «La cultura científica en la sociedad de la información», University of Oviedo. Retrieved from 

  • Real Academia Española. (2017). Cultura. In Diccionario de la lengua española (23ª ed.). Retrieved from

  • Taylor, L. E., Swerdfeger, A. L., & Eslick, G. D. (2014). Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies. Vaccine, 32(29), 3623–3629. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.04.085 

  • United Nations. (1948). Universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved from

  • United Nations. (1966). International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Retrieved from 

  • University College London. (2015, 10 September). Possible evidence for human transmission of Alzheimer’s pathology [press release]. Retrieved from

  • Wakefield, A. J., Murch, S. H., Anthony, A., Linnell, J., Casson, D. M., Malik, M., … Walker-Smith, J. A. (1998). Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. The Lancet, 351(9103), 637–641. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(97)11096-0 (Retracted in 2010, The Lancet, 375(9713), 445. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60175-4).

Creative Commons License
Texts in the journal are –unless otherwise indicated– published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License