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Commentary on commentaries

8 August 2005
Appeared in BioNews 320
In response to comments made in the BioNews survey last year and some correspondence from subscribers, this week's commentary is all about BioNews' Commentaries.

BioNews is published by Progress Educational Trust, a small UK charity providing public information and debate on issues in assisted reproduction, embryo research and genetics. The news and comment service (also available as a daily-updated website at is produced in-house by an editorial team of two. Each week, we compile and publish a news digest, summarising news and developments in assisted reproduction, embryology and genetics.

To complement the news stories in the weekly digest, we also publish an original commentary - an individual or organisational opinion piece - usually relevant to one of the leading stories of the week. Sometimes, one of the BioNews editors writes this piece, but a number of people responding to our survey said they would like to see commentaries written by other people, representing a wider range of viewpoints. So, the majority of BioNews' commentaries for the past year or so have been contributed by experts in the relevant fields. Patient representatives, clinicians, researchers, academics, lawyers and politicians have all answered our request to write a BioNews commentary, with the aim of sparking a topical debate. All these past commentaries are archived on the BioNews website, which is searchable back to 1999. We also have a number of extra commentaries that appear on our website but which were not published in the email news digest.

The commentaries are intended to add to a topical discussion, rather than represent the viewpoint of BioNews. However, one of the primary objectives of the publishing charity is to encourage and facilitate debate, and publishing what may sometimes be seen as 'controversial' opinion pieces in BioNews helps us to achieve this aim.

Some commentaries have generated many emails to the editors, sometimes outraged, sometimes inquisitive, but most often thankful that we have drawn wider attention to an issue. We welcome comments from all our readers (roughly 10,000 of you each week, worldwide) and, as any of you who have corresponded with us will know, we also welcome ideas for new commentaries - or responses to commentaries already published.

22 August 2005 - by BioNews 
Charlie Whitaker, the boy who was once at the centre of a fierce debate over so-called 'saviour siblings', has been given the 'all-clear' by doctors. Six-year-old Charlie, who had Diamond Blackfan anaemia (DBA), received a transplant of cells taken from the umbilical cord of his brother James last year. Last...
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