David Shukman (BBC Science Editor) – Synthetic Biology

Back in March 2012, David Shukman (BBC Science Editor) published a short report on synthetic biology. The reports cast a shadow on the hard work of scientists and implies that synthetic biology is not accepted by the mainstream scientific community. Myles discusses the points Shukman makes in his report and questions if he should be the BBC science editor.

Pictures from this episode

Original Video

Aired on 28/3/12, 15 mins into BBC news at ten. Complaints can be made here.


Responce from the BBC

I understand you are unhappy with a report by David Shukman on synthetic biology.The BBC Complaints process stipulates that:

“You should complain within 30 working days of the incident or event.”


As you have waited until 17 May to send a complaint about a programme broadcast on 28 March 2012, this is so far past broadcast that we do not think there is a case for circumventing our complaints process and taking on your email as a formal complaint.

That said, it may be helpful to know that we have shown your complaint to the BBC’s science staff, who make the following observations in relation to the issues you have raised, outside of the complaints process:

This was the second of two reports by David Shukman on synthetic biology. The first included an explanation for non-scientists on how the technology works and went into some detail about the potential benefits. These included progress towards a malaria vaccine, the prospect of new crops able to cope with drought or disease and the possibility of fuel produced by algae with synthetic genes.

We do not feel that David’s report was alarmist. It simply reflected the considered views of a number of organisations. A large coalition of environmental groups — and Lloyds of London — have separately raised concerns about so-called “bio-error”, in which mistakes might allow an accidental release of material with unpredictable consequences. The UK’s leading scientific academy, the Royal Society, has also recognised that as the science develops, new forms of governance may be needed.

Nevertheless, I do appreciate you feel strongly regarding this, and as we’re guided by feedback such as yours, I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your comments on our audience log. This is a report of audience feedback that’s compiled daily and made available to staff across the BBC, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

About Myles Power (760 Articles)
Hello Internet! My name is Myles Power and I am a chemist from the North East of England, who loves to make videos trying to counter pseudoscience and debunk quackery in all of its various forms! From the hype around GMOs through to Atrazine turning the freakin’ frogs gay, I’ll try to cut through the nonsense that’s out there!

6 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Science on the streets of Manchester – Pictures | Myles Power (powerm1985)
  2. Coalition of Environmentalists Report on Synthetic Biology | Myles Power (powerm1985)
  3. “Why such a fuss about extinction” said no scientist ever! | Myles Power (powerm1985)
  4. What the hell is Hank Green’s problem with genetic engineering?!?! – part 1 | Myles Power (powerm1985)
  5. SHUKMAN!!! is at it again about synthetic biology. | Myles Power (powerm1985)
  6. The Biased Views of Hank Green and SciShow | Myles Power (powerm1985)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: