Medicine And The Media

The enemy and the experiment

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7068.1339 (Published 23 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1339
  1. Kenton Morgan

    What are you going to say to the astute patient who wants to know whether their prion gene codes for methionine or valine at position 129, or to the anxious person who wants the answer before they accept a blood transfusion, graft, embryo, or organ? If you don't understand the question you didn't see this two part Horizon special. Whatever you do, don't mention “cost,” “can't,” or “no risk,” particularly if the patient is a sheep breeder who has just used a similar test on a ram.

    I presume that transferable human products are already being screened, for if there is one message in this documentary it is that scientists, portrayed in goldfish bowls, chain mail, white coat, and wellies but protected most of all by knowledge have a duty to make this available to the meat mincing, burger munching, public. Professor Richard Southwood (who appears in this documentary), and his government working party on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) had the opportunity to do this but favoured “not being alarmist and upsetting the beef industry” whereas Professor Richard Lacey (who doesn't appear) came …

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