Gene Drives, Nature, Governance: An Ethnographic Perspective
Gene Editing, Law, and the Environment: Life Beyond the Human, Irus Braverman, ed. (Routledge, July 2017).
28 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2017 Last revised: 15 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 5, 2017
Synthetic gene drives raise ethical, ecological, and legal questions that are sometimes difficult to grasp. What is clear, however, is that the power to directly alter not just a singular form of life but the genetics of entire populations and species are currently both under-regulated and under-theorized. In place of state regulations, what seems to be emerging is a form of self-regulation by the gene drive scientists themselves. My chapter draws on in-depth interviews with several prominent gene drive scientists to explore their approach toward nature, animals, and the environment. My assumption has been that their approach impacts and regulates the way they work, and this assumption has been confirmed through the more personal stories that each of these scientists has generously shared with me. Although they have not contemplated these issues to the same degree, a few common assumptions about the role of nature and about animal-human relations did emerge from the interviews, most prominently the notion that killing insect populations, modifying their genes, and impacting the planet’s ecological systems are justified in order to reduce human suffering and produce novel ecosystems.
Keywords: Gene Drives, Ethnography, Nature, Self-Regulation, Human-Animal Relations
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