With the advent of CRISPR gene-editing technology, designer babies have become a reality. Françoise Baylis insists that scientists alone cannot decide the terms of this new era in human evolution. Members of the public, with diverse interests and perspectives, must have a role in determining our future as a species.
Providing the first overview of Asia’s emerging biosciences landscape, this timely and important collection brings together ethnographic case studies on biotech endeavors such as genetically modified foods in China, clinical trials in India, blood collection in Singapore and China, and stem-cell research in Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. While biotech policies and projects vary by country, the contributors identify a significant trend toward state entrepreneurialism in biotechnology, and they highlight the ways that political thinking and ethical reasoning are converging around the biosciences. As ascendant nations in a region of postcolonial emergence, with an “uncanny surplus” in population and pandemics, Asian countries treat their populations as sources of opportunity and risk. Biotech enterprises are allied to efforts to overcome past humiliations and restore national identity and political ambition, and they are legitimized as solutions to national anxieties about food supplies, diseases, epidemics, and unknown biological crises in the future. Biotechnological responses to perceived risks stir deep feelings about shared fate, and they crystallize new ethical configurations, often re-inscribing traditional beliefs about ethnicity, nation, and race. As many of the essays in this collection illustrate, state involvement in biotech initiatives is driving the emergence of “biosovereignty,” an increasing pressure for state control over biological resources, commercial health products, corporate behavior, and genetic based-identities. Asian Biotech offers much-needed analysis of the interplay among biotechnologies, economic growth, biosecurity, and ethical practices in Asia.
Contributors Vincanne Adams Nancy N. Chen Stefan Ecks Kathleen Erwin Phuoc V. Le Jennifer Liu Aihwa Ong Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner Kaushik Sunder Rajan Wen-Ching Sung Charis Thompson Ara Wilson
Can the open source approach do for biotechnology what it has done for information technology? Hope's book is the first sustained and systematic inquiry into the application of open source principles to the life sciences. Traversing disciplinary boundaries, she presents a careful analysis of intellectual property-related challenges confronting the biotechnology industry and then paints a detailed picture of "open source biotechnology" as a possible solution.
Biocapital is a major theoretical contribution to science studies and political economy. Grounding his analysis in a multi-sited ethnography of genomic research and drug development marketplaces in the United States and India, Kaushik Sunder Rajan argues that contemporary biotechnologies such as genomics can only be understood in relation to the economic markets within which they emerge. Sunder Rajan conducted fieldwork in biotechnology labs and in small start-up companies in the United States (mostly in the San Francisco Bay area) and India (mainly in New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bombay) over a five-year period spanning 1999 to 2004. He draws on his research with scientists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and policymakers to compare drug development in the two countries, examining the practices and goals of research, the financing mechanisms, the relevant government regulations, and the hype and marketing surrounding promising new technologies. In the process, he illuminates the global flow of ideas, information, capital, and people connected to biotech initiatives.
Sunder Rajan’s ethnography informs his theoretically sophisticated inquiry into how the contemporary world is shaped by the marriage of biotechnology and market forces, by what he calls technoscientific capitalism. Bringing Marxian theories of value into conversation with Foucaultian notions of biopolitics, he traces how the life sciences came to be significant producers of both economic and epistemic value in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first.
Biology Is Technology
Robert H. Carlson Harvard University Press, 2010 Library of Congress TP248.2.C37 2010 | Dewey Decimal 660.6
In Biology Is Technology, author Robert Carlson offers a uniquely informed perspective on the endeavors that contribute to current progress in the science of biological systems and the technology used to manipulate them.
The rise of Western scientific medicine fully established the medical sector of the U.S. political economy by the end of the Second World War, the first “social transformation of American medicine.” Then, in an ongoing process called medicalization, the jurisdiction of medicine began expanding, redefining certain areas once deemed moral, social, or legal problems (such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and obesity) as medical problems. The editors of this important collection argue that since the mid-1980s, dramatic, and especially technoscientific, changes in the constitution, organization, and practices of contemporary biomedicine have coalesced into biomedicalization, the second major transformation of American medicine. This volume offers in-depth analyses and case studies along with the groundbreaking essay in which the editors first elaborated their theory of biomedicalization.
Contributors. Natalie Boero, Adele E. Clarke, Jennifer R. Fishman, Jennifer Ruth Fosket, Kelly Joyce, Jonathan Kahn, Laura Mamo, Jackie Orr, Elianne Riska, Janet K. Shim, Sara Shostak
With Biotechnology and Society, Hallam Stevens offers an up-to-date primer to help us understand the interactions of biotechnology and society and the debates, controversies, fears, and hopes that have shaped how we think about bodies, organisms, and life in the twenty-first century. Stevens addresses such topics as genetically modified foods, cloning, and stem cells; genetic testing and the potential for discrimination; fears of (and, in some cases, hopes for) designer babies; personal genomics; biosecurity; and biotech art. Taken as a whole, the book presents a clear, authoritative picture of the relationship between biotechnology and society today, and how our conceptions (and misconceptions) of it could shape future developments. It is an essential volume for students and scholars working with biotechnology, while still being accessible to the general reader interested in the truth behind breathless media accounts about biotech’s promise and perils.
Some of humankind's greatest tools have been forged in the research laboratory. Who could argue that medical advances like antibiotics, blood transfusions, and pacemakers have not improved the quality of people's lives? But with each new technological breakthrough there comes an array of consequences, at once predicted and unpredictable, beneficial and hazardous.
Outcry over recent developments in the reproductive and genetic sciences has revealed deep fissures in society's perception of biotechnical progress. Many are concerned that reckless technological development, driven by consumerist impulses and greedy entrepreneurialism, has the potential to radically shift the human condition—and not for the greater good. Biotechnology and the Human Goodbuilds a case for a stewardship deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian theism to responsibly interpret and assess new technologies in a way that answers this concern.
The authors jointly recognize humans not as autonomous beings but as ones accountable to each other, to the world they live in, and to God. They argue that to question and critique how fields like cybernetics, nanotechnology, and genetics might affect our future is not anti-science, anti-industry, or anti-progress, but rather a way to promote human flourishing, common sense, and good stewardship.
A synthetic work drawing on the thought of a physician, ethicists, and a theologian, Biotechnology and the Human Good reminds us that although technology is a powerful and often awe-inspiring tool, it is what lies in the heart and soul of who wields this tool that truly makes the difference in our world.
A guide to the rapidly progressing Age of Biotechnology, Brutes or Angels provides basic information on a wide array of new technologies in the life sciences, along with the ethical issues raised by each.
With stem cell research, Dolly the cloned sheep, in vitro fertilization, age retardation, and pharmaceutical mind enhancement, humankind is now faced with decisions that it has never before had to consider. The thoughtfulness, or lack of it, that we bring to those decisions will largely determine the future character of the living world.
Brutes or Angels will facilitate informed choice making about the personal use of biotechnologies and the formulation of public policies governing their development and use. Ten biotechnologies that impact humans are considered: stem cell research, embryo selection, human genomics, gene therapies, human reproductive cloning, age retardation, cognition enhancement, the engineering of nonhuman organisms, nanobiology, and synthetic biology.
With deft and assured use of metaphors, analogies, diagrams, and photographs, James T. Bradley introduces important biological principles and the basic procedures used in biotechnology. Various ethical issues--personhood, personal identity, privacy, ethnic discrimination, distributive justice, authenticity and human nature, and the significance of mortality in the human life cycle--are presented in a clear and unbiased manner. Personal reflection and group dialogue are encouraged by questions at the end of each chapter, making this book not only a general guide to better informed and nuanced thinking on these complex and challenging topics but also an appropriate text for bioethics courses in university science departments and for adult education classes.
Standing at the beginning of the twenty-first century, with burgeoning abilities to enhance and even create life in ways unimaginable just a few decades ago, humans have an awesome responsibility to themselves and other species. Brutes or Angelsinvites us to engage each other in meaningful dialogue by listening, gathering information, formulating thoughtful views, and remaining open to new knowledge and ethical argumentation.
Developments in biotechnology, such as cloning and the decoding of the human genome, are generating questions and choices that traditionally have fallen within the realm of religion and philosophy: the definition of human life, human vs. divine control of nature, the relationship between human and non-human life, and the intentional manipulation of the mechanisms of life and death.
InClaiming Power over Life, eight contributors challenge policymakers to recognize the value of religious views on biotechnology and discuss how best to integrate the wisdom of the Christian and Jewish traditions into public policy debates. Arguing that civic discourse on the subject has been impoverished by an inability to accommodate religious insights productively, they identify the ways in which religious thought can contribute to policymaking. Likewise, the authors challenge religious leaders and scholars to learn about biotechnology, address the central issues it raises, and participate constructively in the moral debates it engenders.
The book will be of value to policymakers, religious leaders, ethicists, and all those interested in issues surrounding the intersection of religion and biotechnology policy.
After Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, his second declaration, after socialism, was that Cuba would become a leader in international science. In biotechnology he would be proven right and, today, Cuba counts a meningitis B vaccine and cutting-edge cancer therapies to its name. But how did this politically and geographically isolated country make such impressive advances? Drawing on a unique ethnography, and blending the insights of anthropology, sociology, and geography, The Cuban Cure shows how Cuba came to compete with U. S. pharmaceutical giants—despite a trade embargo and crippling national debt.
In uncovering what is distinct about Cuban biomedical science, S. M. Reid-Henry examines the forms of resistance that biotechnology research in Cuba presents to the globalization of western models of scientific culture and practice. He illustrates the epistemic, social, and ideological clashes that take place when two cultures of research meet, and how such interactions develop as political and economic circumstances change. Through a novel argument about the intersection of socioeconomic systems and the nature of innovation, The Cuban Cure presents an illuminating study of politics and science in the context of globalization.
A single seed is more than just the promise of a plant. In rural south India, seeds represent diverging paths toward a sustainable livelihood. Development programs and global agribusiness promote genetically modified seeds and organic certification as a path toward more sustainable cotton production, but these solutions mask a complex web of economic, social, political, and ecological issues that may have consequences as dire as death.
In Cultivating Knowledge anthropologist Andrew Flachs shows how rural farmers come to plant genetically modified or certified organic cotton, sometimes during moments of agrarian crisis. Interweaving ethnographic detail, discussions of ecological knowledge, and deep history, Flachs uncovers the unintended consequences of new technologies, which offer great benefits to some—but at others’ expense. Flachs shows that farmers do not make simple cost-benefit analyses when evaluating new technologies and options. Their evaluation of development is a complex and shifting calculation of social meaning, performance, economics, and personal aspiration. Only by understanding this complicated nexus can we begin to understand sustainable agriculture.
By comparing the experiences of farmers engaged with these mutually exclusive visions for the future of agriculture, Cultivating Knowledge investigates the human responses to global agrarian change. It illuminates the local impact of global changes: the slow, persistent dangers of pesticides, inequalities in rural life, the aspirations of people who grow fibers sent around the world, the place of ecological knowledge in modern agriculture, and even the complex threat of suicide. It all begins with a seed.
Hannah Landecker Harvard University Press, 2007 Library of Congress QH585.2.L36 2007 | Dewey Decimal 571.638
How did cells make the journey from their origin in living bodies to something that can be grown and manipulated on artificial media in the laboratory? This is the question at the heart of Hannah Landecker's book. She shows how cell culture changed the way we think about such central questions of the human condition as individuality, hybridity, and even immortality and asks what it means that we can remove cells from the spatial constraints of the body and "harness them to human intention."
Within twenty, maybe forty, years most people in developed countries will stop having sex for the purpose of reproduction. Instead, prospective parents will be told as much as they wish to know about the genetic makeup of dozens of embryos, and they will pick one or two for implantation, gestation, and birth. And it will be safe, lawful, and free. In this work of prophetic scholarship, Henry T. Greely explains the revolutionary biological technologies that make this future a seeming inevitability and sets out the deep ethical and legal challenges humanity faces as a result.
“Readers looking for a more in-depth analysis of human genome modifications and reproductive technologies and their legal and ethical implications should strongly consider picking up Greely’s The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction…[It has] the potential to empower readers to make informed decisions about the implementation of advancements in genetics technologies.”
—Dov Greenbaum, Science
“[Greely] provides an extraordinarily sophisticated analysis of the practical, political, legal, and ethical implications of the new world of human reproduction. His book is a model of highly informed, rigorous, thought-provoking speculation about an immensely important topic.”
—Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today
Mark Denny Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress QP31.2.D46 2011 | Dewey Decimal 591.7
From an engineer’s perspective, how do specialized adaptations among living things really work? Writing with wit and a richly informed sense of wonder, Denny and Alan offer an expert look at animals—including humans—as works of evolutionary engineering, each exquisitely adapted to a specific manner of survival.
When scientists working in the agricultural biotechnology industry first altered the genetic material of one organism by introducing genes from an entirely different organism, the reaction was generally enthusiastic. To many, these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) promised to solve the challenges faced by farmers and to relieve world hunger. Yet within a decade, this "gene revolution" had abruptly stalled. Widespread protests against the potential dangers of "Frankenfoods" and the patenting of seed supplies in the developing world forced the industry to change course. As a result, in the late 1990s, some of the world's largest firms reduced their investment in the agricultural sector, narrowed their focus to a few select crops, or sold off their agricultural divisions altogether.
Fighting for the Future of Food tells the story of how a small group of social activists, working together across tables, continents, and the Internet, took on the biotech industry and achieved stunning success. Rachel Schurman and William A. Munro detail how the anti-biotech movement managed to alter public perceptions about GMOs and close markets to such products. Drawing strength from an alternative worldview that sustained its members' sense of urgency and commitment, the anti-GMO movement exploited political opportunities created by the organization and culture of the biotechnology industry itself.
Fighting for the Future of Food ultimately addresses society's understanding and trust (or mistrust) of technological innovation and the complexities of the global agricultural system that provides our food.
First the Seed spotlights the history of plant breeding and shows how efforts to control the seed have shaped the emergence of the agricultural biotechnology industry. This second edition of a classic work in the political economy of science includes an extensive, new chapter updating the analysis to include the most recent developments in the struggle over the direction of crop genetic engineering.
1988 Cloth, 1990 Paperback, Cambridge University Press
Winner of the Theodore Saloutos Award of the Agricultural History Society
Winner of the Robert K. Merton Award of the American Sociological Association
In Fungible Life Aihwa Ong explores the dynamic world of cutting-edge bioscience research, offering critical insights into the complex ways Asian bioscientific worlds and cosmopolitan sciences are entangled in a tropical environment brimming with the threat of emergent diseases. At biomedical centers in Singapore and China scientists map genetic variants, disease risks, and biomarkers, mobilizing ethnicized "Asian" bodies and health data for genomic research. Their differentiation between Chinese, Indian, and Malay DNA makes fungible Singapore's ethnic-stratified databases that come to "represent" majority populations in Asia. By deploying genomic science as a public good, researchers reconfigure the relationships between objects, peoples, and spaces, thus rendering "Asia" itself as a shifting entity. In Ong's analysis, Asia emerges as a richly layered mode of entanglements, where the population's genetic pasts, anxieties and hopes, shared genetic weaknesses, and embattled genetic futures intersect. Furthermore, her illustration of the contrasting methods and goals of the Biopolis biomedical center in Singapore and BGI Genomics in China raises questions about the future direction of cosmopolitan science in Asia and beyond.
In the fall of 1980, Genentech, Inc., a little-known California genetic engineering company, became the overnight darling of Wall Street, raising over $38 million in its initial public stock offering. Lacking marketed products or substantial profit, the firm nonetheless saw its share price escalate from $35 to $89 in the first few minutes of trading, at that point the largest gain in stock market history. Coming at a time of economic recession and declining technological competitiveness in the United States, the event provoked banner headlines and ignited a period of speculative frenzy over biotechnology as a revolutionary means for creating new and better kinds of pharmaceuticals, untold profit, and a possible solution to national economic malaise.
Drawing from an unparalleled collection of interviews with early biotech players, Sally Smith Hughes offers the first book-length history of this pioneering company, depicting Genentech’s improbable creation, precarious youth, and ascent to immense prosperity. Hughes provides intimate portraits of the people significant to Genentech’s science and business, including cofounders Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson, and in doing so sheds new light on how personality affects the growth of science. By placing Genentech’s founders, followers, opponents, victims, and beneficiaries in context, Hughes also demonstrates how science interacts with commercial and legal interests and university research, and with government regulation, venture capital, and commercial profits.
Integrating the scientific, the corporate, the contextual, and the personal, Genentech tells the story of biotechnology as it is not often told, as a risky and improbable entrepreneurial venture that had to overcome a number of powerful forces working against it.
Covering all species from yeast to humans, this is the first book to tell the story of selfish genetic elements that act narrowly to advance their own replication at the expense of the larger organism.
In light of scientific advances such as genomics, predictive diagnostics, genetically engineered agriculture, nuclear transfer cloning, and the manipulation of stem cells, the idea that genes carry predetermined molecular programs or blueprints is pervasive. Yet new scientific discoveries—such as rna transcripts of single genes that can lead to the production of different compounds from the same pieces of dna—challenge the concept of the gene alone as the dominant factor in biological development. Increasingly aware of the tension between certain empirical results and interpretations of those results based on the orthodox view of genetic determinism, a growing number of scientists urge a rethinking of what a gene is and how it works. In this collection, a group of internationally renowned scientists present some prominent alternative approaches to understanding the role of dna in the construction and function of biological organisms.
Contributors discuss alternatives to the programmatic view of dna, including the developmental systems approach, methodical culturalism, the molecular process concept of the gene, the hermeneutic theory of description, and process structuralist biology. None of the approaches cast doubt on the notion that dna is tremendously important to biological life on earth; rather, contributors examine different ideas of how dna should be represented, evaluated, and explained. Just as ideas about genetic codes have reached far beyond the realm of science, the reconceptualizations of genetic theory in this volume have broad implications for ethics, philosophy, and the social sciences.
Contributors. Thomas Bürglin, Brian C. Goodwin, James Griesemer, Paul Griffiths, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Evelyn Fox Keller, Gerd B. Müller, Eva M. Neumann-Held, Stuart A. Newman, Susan Oyama, Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, Sahotra Sarkar, Jackie Leach Scully, Gerry Webster, Ulrich Wolf
The announcement in 2003 that the Human Genome Project had completed its map of the entire human genome was heralded as a stunning scientific breakthrough: our first full picture of the basic building blocks of human life. Since then, boasts about the benefits—and warnings of the dangers—of genomics have remained front-page news, with everyone agreeing that genomics has the potential to radically alter life as we know it.
For the nonscientist, the claims and counterclaims are dizzying—what does it really mean to understand the genome? Barry Barnes and John Dupré offer an answer to that question and much more in Genomes and What to Make of Them, a clear and lively account of the genomic revolution and its promise. The book opens with a brief history of the science of genetics and genomics, from Mendel to Watson and Crick and all the way up to Craig Venter; from there the authors delve into the use of genomics in determining evolutionary paths—and what it can tell us, for example, about how far we really have come from our ape ancestors. Barnes and Dupré then consider both the power and risks of genetics, from the economic potential of plant genomes to overblown claims that certain human genes can be directly tied to such traits as intelligence or homosexuality. Ultimately, the authors argue, we are now living with a new knowledge as powerful in its way as nuclear physics, and the stark choices that face us—between biological warfare and gene therapy, a new eugenics or a new agricultural revolution—will demand the full engagement of both scientists and citizens.
Written in straightforward language but without denying the complexity of the issues, Genomes and What to Make of Them is both an up-to-date primer and a blueprint for the future.
The incorporation of intellectual property protection into the WTO international trading system has been a milestone in international economic law and has added a new dimension to trade regulation — new rights and obligations and new challenges alike. The contributors, leading scholars and practitioners in the field, provide insights into the legal relationship of the TRIPs Agreement to the GATT 94 and the GATS. The book widens the debate with a thorough discussion on pending and unresolved relations of TRIPs, the WTO, UPOV, the Convention on Biodiversity and Farmers' Rights contained in the FAO International Undertaking, and efforts of the World Bank GCIAR system, including IPGRI. What will be the impact of TRIPs on ownership of plant genetic resources?
Largely a victory for OECD countries, the present state of intellectual property rights has important implications for developing countries. The incorporation of intellectual property rights into the WTO system will eventually change the relationship of trade, competition, and intellectual property. It will equally have to assist in providing equitable sharing of benefits in the use of plant genetic resources. All of these issues are essential for the revision of exclusions from patenting in TRIPs. This volume offers insights into how this difficult task could and should be approached in a balanced manner and will be essential reading for economists and trade and intellectual property lawyers interested in the subject. Moreover, the volume will be relevant to agricultural economists as it addresses complex problems in the interstices of trade, intellectual property, plant genetic resources, and sustainable development.
Thomas Cottier is Professor of European and International Economic Law, University of Bern, and Managing Director, World Trade Institute, University of Bern.
Petros C. Mavroidis is Professor of Law, University of Neuchâtel. He formerly worked in the Legal Affairs Division of the World Trade Organization.
Marion Panizzon is Research Fellow, University of Bern.
Simon Lacey is Research Fellow, University of Bern.
Biotechnology is the new capital. The stakeholders in this revolution are many: the scientists who generate the knowledge in fields where the pace is maddeningly fast; the technologists who make ideas a reality; the managers who struggle to deal with an industry where the old rules of thinking do not always apply; the venture capitalists who provide funds based on market moods rather than science; the health care, agricultural, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries whose once cozy enclaves have been revolutionized and are now barely recognizable; the law professionals and ethicists who have to grapple with issues unimaginable just a few years ago; the public policy makers who struggle with the complex issues and have to make decisions quickly, or risk being left behind; and, finally, the society and individuals who are in the midst of all that is taking place. This book addresses this diverse constituency and offers an integrated view of exciting new biotechnologies, both from a science and business perspective.
The book walks the reader through the "what"--what are some of the newest biotechnologies that will revolutionize the way we think about health?; the "how"--how to transform those technologies into profitable products and companies; and the "who"--who will benefit from these technologies?
Kellogg on Biotech is the outgrowth of a collaborative student-faculty effort called TechVentures at the Kellogg School of Management. Their research forms the raw material for Kellogg on Biotech.
The phenomenon of transnational adoption is changing in the age of globalization and biotechnology. In Legitimating Life, Sonja van Wichelen boldly describes how contemporary justifications of cross-border adoption navigate between child welfare, humanitarianism, family making, capitalism, science, and health. Focusing on contemporary institutional practices of adoption in the United States and the Netherlands, she traces how professionals, bureaucrats, lawyers, politicians, social workers, and experts legitimate a practice that became progressively controversial. Throughout the past few decades transnational adoption transformed from a humanitarian response to a means of making family. In this new manifestation, life becomes necessarily economized. While push and pull factors, demand and supply dynamics, and competition between agencies set the stage for the globalization of adoption, international conventions, scientific knowledge, and the language of human rights universalized the phenomenon. Van Wichelen argues that such technoscientific legitimations of a globalizing practice are rearticulating colonial logics of race and civilization. Yet, she also lets us see beyond the biopolitical project and into alternative ways of making kin.
Embryo adoptions, stem cells capable of transforming into any cell in the human body, intra- and inter-species organ transplantation—these and other biomedical advances have unsettled ideas of what it means to be human, of when life begins and ends. In the first study to consider the cultural impact of the medical transformation of the entire human life span, Susan Merrill Squier argues that fiction—particularly science fiction—serves as a space where worries about ethically and socially charged scientific procedures are worked through. Indeed, she demonstrates that in many instances fiction has anticipated and paved the way for far-reaching biomedical changes. Squier uses the anthropological concept of liminality—the state of being on the threshold of change, no longer one thing yet not quite another—to explore how, from the early twentieth century forward, fiction and science together have altered not only the concept of the human being but the contours of human life.
Drawing on archival materials of twentieth-century biology; little-known works of fiction and science fiction; and twentieth- and twenty-first century U.S. and U.K. government reports by the National Institutes of Health, the Parliamentary Advisory Group on the Ethics of Xenotransplantation, and the President’s Council on Bioethics, she examines a number of biomedical changes as each was portrayed by scientists, social scientists, and authors of fiction and poetry. Among the scientific developments she considers are the cultured cell, the hybrid embryo, the engineered intrauterine fetus, the child treated with human growth hormone, the process of organ transplantation, and the elderly person rejuvenated by hormone replacement therapy or other artificial means. Squier shows that in the midst of new phenomena such as these, literature helps us imagine new ways of living. It allows us to reflect on the possibilities and perils of our liminal lives.
Lively Capital is an urgent and important collection of essays addressing the reconfigured relations between the life sciences and the market. Exploring the ground where social and cultural anthropology intersect with science and technology studies, prominent scholars investigate the relationship of biotechnology to ethics, governance, and markets, as well as the new legal, social, cultural, and institutional mechanisms emerging to regulate biotechnology. The contributors examine genomics, pharmaceutical marketing, intellectual property, environmental science, clinical trials, patient advocacy, and other such matters as they are playing out in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Lively Capital is not only about the commercialization of the life sciences, but their institutional histories, epistemic formations, and systems of valuation. It is also about the lively affects—the emotions and desires—involved when technologies and research impinge on experiences of embodiment, kinship, identity, disability, citizenship, accumulation, and dispossession. At stake in the commodification of the life sciences are opportunities to intervene in and adjudicate matters of health, life, and death.
Contributors. Timothy Choy, Joseph Dumit, Michael M. J. Fischer, Kim Fortun, Mike Fortun, Donna Haraway, Sheila Jasanoff, Wen-Hua Kuo, Andrew Lakoff, Kristin Peterson, Chloe Silverman, Elta Smith, Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Travis J. Tanner
Making PCR is the fascinating, behind-the-scenes account of the invention of one of the most significant biotech discoveries in our time—the polymerase chain reaction. Transforming the practice and potential of molecular biology, PCR extends scientists' ability to identify and manipulate genetic materials and accurately reproduces millions of copies of a given segment in a short period of time. It makes abundant what was once scarce—the genetic material required for experimentation.
Making PCR explores the culture of biotechnology as it emerged at Certus Corporation during the 1980s and focuses on its distinctive configuration of scientific, technical, social, economic, political, and legal elements, each of which had its own separate trajectory over the preceding decade. The book contains interviews with the remarkable cast of characters who made PCR, including Kary Mullin, the maverick who received the Nobel prize for "discovering" it, as well as the team of young scientists and the company's business leaders.
This book shows how a contingently assembled practice emerged, composed of distinctive subjects, the site where they worked, and the object they invented.
"Paul Rabinow paints a . . . picture of the process of discovery in Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology [and] teases out every possible detail. . . . Makes for an intriguing read that raises many questions about our understanding of the twisting process of discovery itself."—David Bradley, New Scientist
"Rabinow's book belongs to a burgeoning genre: ethnographic studies of what scientists actually do in the lab. . . . A bold move."—Daniel Zalewski, Lingua Franca
"[Making PCR is] exotic territory, biomedical research, explored. . . . Rabinow describes a dance: the immigration and repatriation of scientists to and from the academic and business worlds."—Nancy Maull, New York Times Book Review
Today's science tells us that our bodies are filled with molecular machinery that orchestrates all sorts of life processes. When we think, microscopic "channels" open and close in our brain cell membranes; when we run, tiny "motors" spin in our muscle cell membranes; and when we see, light operates "molecular switches" in our eyes and nerves. A molecular-mechanical vision of life has become commonplace in both the halls of philosophy and the offices of drug companies, where researchers are developing “proton pump inhibitors” or medicines similar to Prozac.
Membranes to Molecular Machines explores just how late twentieth-century science came to think of our cells and bodies this way. This story is told through the lens of membrane research, an unwritten history at the crossroads of molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, and the neurosciences, that directly feeds into today's synthetic biology as well as nano- and biotechnology. Mathias Grote shows how these sciences not only have made us think differently about life, they have, by reworking what membranes and proteins represent in laboratories, allowed us to manipulate life as "active matter" in new ways. Covering the science of biological membranes in the United States and Europe from the mid-1960s to the 1990s, this book connects that history to contemporary work with optogenetics, a method for stimulating individual neurons using light, and will enlighten and provoke anyone interested in the intersection of chemical research and the life sciences—from practitioner to historian to philosopher.
“Lawler proves himself again one of liberal democracy’s most perceptive friendly critics. . . . Lawler ranges widely—drawing on Socrates, Tocqueville, Solzhenitsyn, and Benedict XVI, among others—to explore the disturbing challenge modern liberalism poses to human dignity.” —First Things
“Written with grace, wit, and irrepressible self-assurance, [Modern and American Dignity] explores the moral, philosophical, and religious sources of human dignity. . . . Lawler argues that human rights and choices must rest on human dignity, and that dignity requires ontology—a concept of a person as a whole being—at odds with both neo-Darwinian sociobiology and Enlightenment individualism. . . . Recommended.” —Choice
“Lawler’s study excels at introducing critical themes in the discussion of what it means to be human . . . One of the most intellectually stimulating studies I’ve read in a long time. . . . Lawler is brilliant in his analysis. . . . The separate points of each chapter rise to the level of seminal insights. And in the end, like all profitable lines of thought once properly balanced, they form a very satisfying whole: They converge.” — Dr. Jeff Mirus, CatholicCulture.org
“As go the souls of individual Americans will go the future of our country. . . . Peter Lawler’s book should be studied so that we too can be open to the truth about ourselves and our country.” —University Bookman
“A lively and illuminating book . . . Lawler’s wide learning is never merely academic, but always at the service of understanding the human soul, and the political predicament of late modern man. . . . This is a book that allows us to think realistically about personal virtue.” —Journal of Markets and Morality
“Puts Mr. Lawler firmly in the rank of generally Christian and usually progressive-conservative thinkers identified by Russell Kirk as contributing to the uniquely Anglospheric form of the Conservative Mind. He is a real joy to read. . . . Grade: A+.” —BrothersJudd.com
Winner of “Author of the Year Award for Essay” from the Georgia Writers Association
An Indispensable Guide to Our Most Pressing Moral and Political Debates
The horrors of the twentieth century exposed the insufficiency of speaking of human rights. In intending to extinguish whole classes of human beings, the Nazis and Communists did something much worse than violating rights; they aimed to reduce us all to less than who we really are. As political philosopher Peter Augustine Lawler shows in this illuminating book, rights are insecure without some deeper notion of human dignity.
The threats to human dignity remain potent today—all the more so for being less obvious. Our anxious and aging society has embraced advances in science, technology, and especially biotechnology—from abortion and embryonic stem-cell research to psychopharmacology, cosmetic surgery and neurology, genetic manipulation, and the detachment of sex from reproduction. But such technical advances can come at the expense of our natural and creaturely dignity, of what we display when we know who we are and what we’re supposed to do. Our lives will only become more miserably confused if we cannot speak confidently about human dignity.
In Modern and American Dignity, Lawler, who served on President George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics, reveals the intellectual and cultural trends that threaten our confidence in human dignity. The “modern” view of dignity, as he calls it, denies what’s good about who we are by nature, understanding human dignity to mean moral autonomy (freedom from nature) or productivity (asserting our mastery over nature by devising ingenious transformations). This new understanding of dignity stands at odds with the “American” view, which depends on the self-evidence of the truth that we are all created equally unique and irreplaceable. The American view, which is indebted to classical, Christian, and modern sources, understands that free persons are more than merely autonomous or productive beings—or, for that matter, clever chimps. It sees what’s good in our personal freedom and our technical mastery over nature, but only in balance with the rest of what makes us whole persons—our dignified performance of our “relational” duties as familial, political, and religious beings.
Modern and American Dignity explores these topics with wit and elegance. To make sense of contemporary political and moral debates, Lawler draws on a wide range of thinkers—from Socrates to Solzhenitsyn, from Tocqueville to Chesterton, from John Courtney Murray to our philosopher-pope Benedict XVI. In revealing the full dimensions of these debates, he exposes the emptiness of glib pronouncements—such as President Obama’s—that our bioethical conflicts can be resolved by a consensus of scientific experts. As the experience of the Bush Bioethics Council demonstrated, there is no scientific consensus about who a human being is.
Lawler has provided an indispensable guide to today’s complex political, bioethical, and cultural debates.
The Western moral tradition has been profoundly influenced by attempts to ground moral convictions in an analysis of human nature, whether conceived in rational, emotional, or biological terms. This idea that nature is the ultimate standard of our actions is found in writers as different as Aristotle, Hume, Hobbes, and Darwin, as well as their modern followers. But in an age of rapid biological changes brought on by biotechnologies such as stem-cell research, gene therapy, and mood-altering drugs, can human nature still serve as a basis for our moral thinking?
This is the question explored by Richard Sherlock in Nature’s End: The Theological Meaning of the New Genetics. Sherlock contends that in light of the fact that we can now alter human nature we must find a transnatural standpoint from which to make moral judgments—that is, a theological standpoint. Current and future advances in genetic and biological science require a bold theological response, argues Sherlock, not a response based on pragmatism or arguments from nature, including natural-law arguments.
Sherlock provocatively calls for moral traditionalists to aim not so much for rational agreement as moral conversion, a “mighty change of heart.” Theology must bear witness to its deepest convictions about the meaning of human existence, he writes, and try to get people to see the world anew. Nothing less will serve to meet the deepest moral challenges let loose by the new biosciences.
Tracing the development of population genetics through the writings of such luminaries as Darwin, Galton, Pearson, Fisher, Haldane, and Wright, William B. Provine sheds light on this complex field as well as its bearing on other branches of biology.
Over the past thirty years, the world’s patent systems have experienced pressure from civil society like never before. From farmers to patient advocates, new voices are arguing that patents impact public health, economic inequality, morality—and democracy. These challenges, to domains that we usually consider technical and legal, may seem surprising. But in Patent Politics, Shobita Parthasarathy argues that patent systems have always been deeply political and social.
To demonstrate this, Parthasarathy takes readers through a particularly fierce and prolonged set of controversies over patents on life forms linked to important advances in biology and agriculture and potentially life-saving medicines. Comparing battles over patents on animals, human embryonic stem cells, human genes, and plants in the United States and Europe, she shows how political culture, ideology, and history shape patent system politics. Clashes over whose voices and which values matter in the patent system, as well as what counts as knowledge and whose expertise is important, look quite different in these two places. And through these debates, the United States and Europe are developing very different approaches to patent and innovation governance. Not just the first comprehensive look at the controversies swirling around biotechnology patents, Patent Politics is also the first in-depth analysis of the political underpinnings and implications of modern patent systems, and provides a timely analysis of how we can reform these systems around the world to maximize the public interest.
Technology evolves at a dazzling speed, and nowhere more so than in the field of genetic engineering, where the possibility of directly changing the genes of one's children is quickly becoming a reality. The public is rightly concerned, but interestingly, they have not had much to say about the implications of recent advancements in human genetics.
Playing God? asks why and explores the social forces that have led to the thinning out of public debate over human genetic engineering. John H. Evans contends that the problem lies in the structure of the debate itself. Disputes over human genetic engineering concern the means for achieving assumed ends, rather than being a healthy discussion about the ends themselves. According to Evans, this change in focus occurred as the jurisdiction over the debate shifted from scientists to bioethicists, a change which itself was caused by the rise of the bureaucratic state as the authority in such matters. The implications of this timely study are twofold. Evans not only explores how decisions about the ethics of human genetic engineering are made, but also shows how the structure of the debate has led to the technological choices we now face.
A Primer for Computational Biology aims to provide life scientists and students the skills necessary for research in a data-rich world. The text covers accessing and using remote servers via the command-line, writing programs and pipelines for data analysis, and provides useful vocabulary for interdisciplinary work. The book is broken into three parts:
Introduction to Unix/Linux: The command-line is the “natural environment” of scientific computing, and this part covers a wide range of topics, including logging in, working with files and directories, installing programs and writing scripts, and the powerful “pipe” operator for file and data manipulation.
Programming in Python: Python is both a premier language for learning and a common choice in scientific software development. This part covers the basic concepts in programming (data types, if-statements and loops, functions) via examples of DNA-sequence analysis. This part also covers more complex subjects in software development such as objects and classes, modules, and APIs.
Programming in R: The R language specializes in statistical data analysis, and is also quite useful for visualizing large datasets. This third part covers the basics of R as a programming language (data types, if-statements, functions, loops and when to use them) as well as techniques for large-scale, multi-test analyses. Other topics include S3 classes and data visualization with ggplot2.
The implicit questions that inevitably underlie German bioethics are the same ones that have pervaded all of German public life for decades: How could the Holocaust have happened? And how can Germans make sure that it will never happen again? In Reasons of Conscience, Stefan Sperling considers the bioethical debates surrounding embryonic stem cell research in Germany at the turn of the twenty-first century, highlighting how the country’s ongoing struggle to come to terms with its past informs the decisions it makes today.
Sperling brings the reader unmatched access to the offices of the German parliament to convey the role that morality and ethics play in contemporary Germany. He describes the separate and interactive workings of the two bodies assigned to shape German bioethics—the parliamentary Enquiry Commission on Law and Ethics in Modern Medicine and the executive branch’s National Ethics Council—tracing each institution’s genesis, projected image, and operations, and revealing that the content of bioethics cannot be separated from the workings of these institutions. Sperling then focuses his discussion around three core categories—transparency, conscience, and Germany itself—arguing that without fully considering these, we fail to understand German bioethics. He concludes with an assessment of German legislators and regulators’ attempts to incorporate criteria of ethical research into the German Stem Cell Law.
The advent of recombinant DNA technology in the 1970s was a key moment in the history of both biotechnology and the commercialization of academic research. Doogab Yi’s The Recombinant University draws us deeply into the academic community in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the technology was developed and adopted as the first major commercial technology for genetic engineering. In doing so, it reveals how research patronage, market forces, and legal developments from the late 1960s through the early 1980s influenced the evolution of the technology and reshaped the moral and scientific life of biomedical researchers.
Bay Area scientists, university administrators, and government officials were fascinated by and increasingly engaged in the economic and political opportunities associated with the privatization of academic research. Yi uncovers how the attempts made by Stanford scientists and administrators to demonstrate the relevance of academic research were increasingly mediated by capitalistic conceptions of knowledge, medical innovation, and the public interest. Their interventions resulted in legal shifts and moral realignments that encouraged the privatization of academic research for public benefit. The Recombinant University brings to life the hybrid origin story of biotechnology and the ways the academic culture of science has changed in tandem with the early commercialization of recombinant DNA technology.
An exploration of the moral and ethical implications of new biotechnologies
Many of the ethical issues raised by new technologies have not been widely examined, discussed, or indeed settled. For example, robotics technology challenges the notion of personhood. Should a robot, capable of making what humans would call ethical decisions, be held responsible for those decisions and the resultant actions? Should society reward and punish robots in the same way that it does humans? Likewise, issues of safety, environmental concerns, and distributive justice arise with the increasing acceptance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food production nanotechnology in engineering and medicine, and human gene therapy and enhancement. The problem of dual-use—when a technology can be used both to benefit and to harm—exists with virtually all new technologies but is central in the context of emerging 21st century technologies ranging from artificial intelligence and robotics to human gene-editing and brain-computer interfacing.
In Re-Creating Nature: Science, Technology, and Human Values in the Twenty-First Century, James T. Bradley addresses emerging biotechnologies with prodigious potential to benefit humankind but that are also fraught with ethical consequences. Some actually possess the power to directly alter the evolution of life on earth including human. Specifically, these topics include stem cells, synthetic biology, GMOs in agriculture, nanotechnology, bioterrorism, CRISPR gene-editing technology, three-parent babies, robotics and roboethics, artificial intelligence, and human brain research and neurotechnologies.
Offering clear explanations of these various technologies, a pragmatic presentation of the conundrums involved, and questions that illuminate hypothetical situations, Bradley guides discussions of these and other thorny issues resulting from the development of new biotechnologies. He also highlights the responsibilities of scientists to conduct research in an ethical manner and the responsibilities of nonscientists to become “science literate” in the twenty-first century.
Microchips. Genetic modification of plants. Cloning. Advances in technology promise to shape our lives more profoundly than ever before. Exciting new discoveries in reproductive, genetic, and information technologies all serve to call into question the immutability of the boundaries between humans, animals, and machines. The category of the “posthuman” reflects the implications of such new technologies on contemporary culture, especially in their capacity to reconfigure the human body and to challenge our most fundamental understandings of human nature.
Elaine L. Graham explores these issues as they are expressed within popular culture and the creative arts. From the myth of Prometheus and the Gothic horror of Frankenstein’s monster to contemporary postmodern science fiction, a gallery of fantastic creatures haunts Western myth, religion, and literature. They serve to connect contemporary debates with enduring concerns about the potential—and the limits—of human creativity.
This book breaks new ground in drawing together a wide range of literature on new technologies and their ethical implications. In her explorations of the monstrous and the cyborg, Graham covers the Jewish legend of the golem, the Human Genome Project, Star Trek: Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Donna Haraway’s cyborg writing, andmany other related topics. This book will interest students in cultural studies, literature, ethics, religion, information technology, and the life sciences.
With scientific progress occurring at a breathtaking pace, science and technology policy has never been more important than it is today. Yet there is a very real lack of public discourse about policy-making, and government involvement in science remains shrouded in both mystery and misunderstanding. Who is making choices about technology policy, and who stands to win or lose from these choices? What criteria are being used to make decisions and why? Does government involvement help or hinder scientific research?
Shaping Science and Technology Policy brings together an exciting and diverse group of emerging scholars, both practitioners and academic experts, to investigate current issues in science and technology policy. Essays explore such topics as globalization, the shifting boundary between public and private, informed consent in human participation in scientific research, intellectual property and university science, and the distribution of the costs and benefits of research.
Contributors: Charlotte Augst, Grant Black, Mark Brown, Kevin Elliott, Patrick Feng, Pamela M. Franklin, Carolyn Gideon, Tené N. Hamilton, Brian A. Jackson, Shobita Parthasarathy, Jason W. Patton, A. Abigail Payne, Bhaven Sampat, Christian Sandvig, Sheryl Winston Smith, Michael Whong-Barr
In Starved for Science Paarlberg explains why poor African farmers are denied access to productive technologies, particularly genetically engineered seeds with improved resistance to insects and drought. He traces this obstacle to the current opposition to farm science in prosperous countries.
In the final years of the twentieth century, émigrés from engineering and computer science devoted themselves to biology and resolved that if the aim of biology is to understand life, then making life would yield better theories than experimentation. Armed with the latest biotechnology techniques, these scientists treated biological media as elements for design and manufacture: viruses named for computers, bacterial genomes encoding passages from James Joyce, chimeric yeast buckling under the metabolic strain of genes harvested from wormwood, petunias, and microbes from Icelandic thermal pools.
In Synthetic: How Life Got Made, cultural anthropologist Sophia Roosth reveals how synthetic biologists make new living things in order to understand better how life works. The first book-length ethnographic study of this discipline, Synthetic documents the social, cultural, rhetorical, economic, and imaginative transformations biology has undergone in the post-genomic age. Roosth traces this new science from its origins at MIT to start-ups, laboratories, conferences, and hackers’ garages across the United States—even to contemporary efforts to resurrect extinct species. Her careful research reveals that rather than opening up a limitless new field, these biologists’ own experimental tactics circularly determine the biological features, theories, and limits they fasten upon. Exploring the life sciences emblematic of our time, Synthetic tells the origin story of the astonishing claim that biological making fosters biological knowing.
The timeless human desire to be more beautiful, intelligent, healthy, athletic, or young has given rise in our time to technologies of human enhancement. Athletes use drugs to increase their strength or stamina; cosmetic surgery is widely used to improve physical appearance; millions of men take drugs like Viagra to enhance sexual performance. And today researchers are exploring technologies such as cell regeneration and implantable devices that interact directly with the brain. Some condemn these developments as a new kind of cheating—not just in sports but in life itself—promising rewards without effort and depriving us most of all of what it means to be authentic human beings. “Transhumanists,” on the other hand, reject what they see as a rationalizing of human limits, as if being human means being content forever with underachieving bodies and brains. To be human, they insist, is to be restless with possibilities, always eager to transcend biological limits.
As the debate grows in urgency, how should theology respond? Christian theologians recognize truth on both sides of the argument, pointing out how the yearnings of the transhumanists—if not their technological methods—find deep affinities in Christian belief. In this volume, Ronald Cole-Turner has joined seasoned scholars and younger, emerging voices together to bring fresh insight into the technologies that are already reshaping the future of Christian life and hope.
With genetically modified crops we have entered uncharted territory--where visions of the triumph of biotechnology in agriculture vie with dire views of medical and environmental disaster. As he seeks a middle ground where concerns about genetic engineering can be rationally discussed and resolved, Winston gives us a full and balanced view of the forces at play in the chaotic debate over agricultural biotechnology.
Printed in the colors of flesh and blood, VAS: An Opera in Flatland—a hybrid image-text novel—demonstrates how differing ways of imagining the body generate diverse stories of history, gender, politics, and, ultimately, the literature of who we are.
A constantly surprising, VAS combines a variety of voices, from journalism and libretto to poem and comic book. Often these voices meet in counterpoint, and the meaning of the narrative emerges from their juxtapositions, harmonies, or discords. Utilizing a wide and historical sweep of representations of the body—from pedigree charts to genetic sequences—VAS is, finally, the story of finding one's identity within the double helix of language and lineage.