This article explores the interface between law, technology, and practices. More specifically, it addresses how biotechnologies—in particular, reproductive technologies—move people in different ways. Taking as its point of departure certain restrictions in the Norwegian biotechnology law, it explores changes in procreative practices and their implications for understandings of notions of belonging. This is tied to a gradual shift in meaning of the concepts of paternity and maternity, which in turn has ramifications for kinship and hence fundamental ideas of relatedness. Two premises underpin the arguments: first, that law is a cultural artifact productive of meaning, and, second, that as a social phenomenon, biotechnologies bring to the fore fundamental moral dilemmas.
Assisted Reproduction, Law, and Practices in Norway
Michael S. Carolan
This article maps key epistemological and ontological terrains associated with biotechnology. Beginning with the epistemological, a comparison is made between the scientific representations of today, particularly as found in the genomic sciences, and the scientific representations of the past. In doing this, we find these representations have changed over the centuries, which has been of significant consequence in terms of giving shape to today's global political economy. In the following section, the sociopolitical effects of biotechnology are discussed, particularly in terms of how the aforementioned representations give shape to global path dependencies. By examining the epistemological and ontological assumptions that give shape to the global distribution of informational and biological resources, this article seeks to add to our understanding of today's bioeconomy and the geographies of control it helps to create.
Post-industrial French Paysans Fight for a Solidaire Global Food Policy
If the post-war industrial model entails a mix of technological and chemical interventions that increase farm productivity, then post-industrial agriculture (emerging in the 1970s) constitutes agricultural surpluses, as well as an array of trade, aid and biotechnology practices that introduce novel foodstuffs (processed and genetically modified) on an unprecedented scale. While industrial agriculture reduces the farming population, the latter gives rise to new sets of actors who question the nature and validity of the industrial model. This essay explores the rise of one set of such actors. Paysans (peasants) from France's second largest union, the Confederation Paysanne, challenge the industrial model's instrumental rationality of agriculture. Reframing food questions in terms of food sovereignty, paysans propose a solidarity-based production rationality which gives hope to those who believe that another post-industrial food system is possible.
Patented seeds at dispute in Canada's courts
Patents on objects that have agency such as seeds pose new challenges for governance, raising fundamental questions of control and responsibility. In May 2004 the Supreme Court of Canada found the farmer Percy Schmeiser guilty of infringing the Monsanto patent on genetically modified canola, because he reseeded part of his canola harvest although he knew or ought to have known that it contained seeds of GM canola plants that had blown into his field. In May 2005, a group of organic farmers tried a legal procedure to get certification as a class against two biotechnology corporations Bayer CropScience and Monsanto for polluting their fields with GM canola. At stake are questions on the type of ownership that can be claimed over plants—and whether ownership can be claimed over a plant at the same time that liability for its reproduction is denied. The two court cases I discuss allow us to more closely see how genetically modified canola plants have become objects of contention among Western Canadian farmers, how they transformed the farmers’ daily work and relations between neighbors, and how they increased farmers’ dependency on agro-biotech corporations.
Between Religion, Regulation, and Globalization
when I participated in inspections at Novozymes, but I also draw on knowledge generated during my interaction with other biotechnology companies. The Coordinator has been with Novozymes for many years and has worked in research and development
A Literature Review
variety of fields pertaining to medicine, biotechnology, nanotechnology, etcetera. For instance, Ge Zhang (2012) provides an overview of what biomimicry can contribute to biomedical research in areas such as regenerative medicine or in tissue engineering
Public Debates about Technological Modifi cation of Food
Jennifer B. Rogers-Brown, Christine Shearer, and Barbara Herr Harthorn
Technological modifications of food are being marketed as novel products that will enhance consumer choice and nutritional value. A recent manifestation is nanotechnology, entering the global food chain through food production, pesticides, vitamins, and food packaging. This article presents a detailed literature review on risk and benefit perceptions of technological developments for food and agriculture, including our own research from US deliberative workshops on nanotechnologies. The article suggests that many of the public concerns discussed in the literature on biotechnology in food are being raised in qualitative and quantitative studies on nanotechnologies for food: although nanotechnologies are generally perceived to be beneficial, many people express particular uneasiness about nanotechnological modifications of food. The article argues that these concerns represent material examples of unresolved social issues involving technologies and the food industry, including questions about the benefits of nanotechnology for food, and the heightened values attached to food as a cultural domain.
Films and Conferences
Soheila Shahshahani and Mikaela Rogozen-Soltar
Sheikholeslam Mahvash, Koul Farah
‘Islam and the Biotechnologies of Human Life’, 18–20 September 2009, Yale University, New Haven, CT, United States
Resisting the Neo-liberal Enclosure of Life
Stephen B. Scharper and Hilary Cunningham
The notion of a ‘genetic commons’ is a broad-based, multi-faceted response to a particular constellation of technological, cultural, economic, political, ethical, and legal developments of the past three decades. Prompted principally by advances in biotechnology and the heretofore unprecedented patenting of life forms, the genetic commons movement seeks to critique and resist the commodification and commercialization of ‘nature’ and to establish a cosmological and political space outside of, and protected from, neo-liberal capitalist processes.
This paper explores the rights-based cosmopolitanism of French anti-GM activists and their challenge to the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of the World Trade Organization and multinational corporations. Activists argue that genetic modification, patents, and WTO-brokered free trade agreements are the means by which multinationals deny people fundamental rights and seek to dominate global agriculture. Through forms of protest, which include cutting down field trials of genetically modified crops, activists resist this agenda of domination and champion the rights of farmers and nations to opt out of the global agricultural model promoted by biotechnology companies. In so doing, they defend the local. This defense, however, is based on a cosmopolitan discourse of fundamental rights and the common good. I argue that activists' cosmopolitan perspective does not transcend the local but is intimately related to a particular understanding of it.