Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 191–200 | Cite as

In risk we trust/Editing embryos and mirroring future risks and uncertainties

  • Eva ŠlesingerováEmail author
Scientific Contribution


Tendencies and efforts have shifted from genome description, DNA mapping, and DNA sequencing to active and profound re-programming, repairing life on genetic and molecular levels in some parts of contemporary life science research. Mirroring and materializing this atmosphere, various life engineering technologies have been used and established in many areas of life sciences in the last decades. A contemporary progressive example of one such technology is DNA editing. Novel developments related to reproductive technologies, particularly embryo editing, prenatal human life engineering, and germline engineering need to be analyzed against the broader social and structural background. The crucial analytical scope for this paper is a specific field: the life-editing technologies used in reproductive medicine and performed experimentally on viable human embryos, particularly CRISPR/Cas9 technology. This text argues that germline editing technologies, as a representative part of contemporary biomedicine, are merging ideas of treatment and enhancement to avoid future risks. Using this specific life manipulation of embryos and gametes, the text analyzes these processes within the concept of power over life—biopower and the specific governing rationality that imagines, classifies, and governs contemporary societies. The text specifically focuses on the potential to create, define, and manage future risks and uncertainties related to prenatal life.


Editing life Editing embryos Life-engineering Biopower Risk Uncertainty 



I thank the journal’s anonymous reviewers for their comments, crucial suggestions and encouragement.


This paper is supported by funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 750088 (Artificial Life/Anthropological and Sociological Analysis of Life Engineering).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Sociology, Research Group: “Biotechnologies, Nature and Society”Goethe University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany

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