What are the ethical and political implications when the very foundations of life—things of awe and spiritual significance—are translated into products accessible to few people? This book critically analyses this historic recontextualisation. Through mediation—when meaning moves ‘from one text to another, from one discourse to another’—biotechnology is transformed into analysable data and into public discourses.
The unique book links biotechnology with media and citizenship.
As with any ‘commodity’, biological products have been commodified. Because enormous speculative investment rests on this, risk will be understated and benefit will be overstated. Benefits will be unfairly distributed. Already, the bioprospecting of Southern megadiverse nations, legally sanctioned by U. S. property rights conventions, has led to wealth and health benefits in the North.
Crucial to this development are biotechnological discourses that shift meanings from a “language of life” into technocratic discourses, infused with neo-liberal economic assumptions that promise progress and benefits for all. Crucial in this is the mass media’s representation of biotechnology for an audience with poor scientific literacy. Yet, even apparently benign biotechnology spawned by the Human Genome Project such as prenatal screening has eugenic possibilities, and genetic codes for illness are eagerly sought by insurance companies seeking to exclude certain people.
These issues raise important questions about a citizenship that is founded on moral responsibility for the wellbeing of society now and into the future. After all, biotechnology is very much concerned with the essence of life itself. This book provides a space for alternative and dissident voices beyond the hype that surrounds biotechnology.