Genetically modified organisms in agriculture have become objects of contention, crystallizing some of today’s major political and social controversies. As human-made objects that are alive and have agency, they invite the anthropologist to follow their trajectories and to analyze the power relationships and political economies of meaning in which they are inscribed. Taking as a point of departure Hans Jonas’s principle of responsibility for the unknown effects of technological developments, this article questions why a culture of urgency is attached to GMOs in spite of the unpredictable consequences that may arise when they are set free into the environment. As naturally reproducing objects that have intellectual property rights attached to them they raise issues of political governance and of economic power and control. They provoke not only repertoires of contention but also silences that speak about the link between technology and policy in con- temporary societies.
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