Advertisement

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Editing life Editing embryos Life-engineering Biopower Risk Uncertainty 

Notes

Acknowledgements

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

Funding

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).

References

  1. Adam, Barbara, Ulrich Beck, and Joost van Loon. 2000. The Risk Society and Beyond. Critical Issues for Social Theory. London: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agamben, Giorgio. 1998. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ascott, Roy, and Edward A. Shanken. 2003. Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Atkinson, Paul, Peter Glasner, and Margaret Lock. 2013. Handbook of Genetics and Society, Mapping the New Genomic Era. London: Rouledge.Google Scholar
  5. Baltimore, David et al. 2015. A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification. Biotechnology 348 (6230): 36–38.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aab1028.Google Scholar
  6. Beck, Ulrich. 1986/1992. Risk Society. Towards a New Modernity. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
  7. Best, Jacqueline. 2008. Ambiguity, uncertainty, and risk: Rethinking indeterminacy. International Political Sociology 2 (4): 355–374.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-5687.2008.00056.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bock von Wülfingen, Bettina. 2012. From re-pair and re-production to (re)generation: Bio-objects as indicators of cultural change. Croatian Medical Journal 53 (5): 502–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Braun, B. 2007. Biopolitics and the molecularization of life. Cultural Geographies 14 (1): 6–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown, Nik, and Andrew Webster. 2004. New Medical Technologies and Society: Reordering life. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  11. Burchell, Graham, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller. 1991. Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Calvert, Jane. 2010. Synthetic biology: Constructing nature? The Sociological Review.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2010.01913.x.Google Scholar
  13. Calvert, Jane. 2013. Engineering biology and society: Reflections on synthetic biology. Science, Technology & Society 18 (3): 405–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Calvert, Jane, and Joan H. Fujimura. 2011. Calculating life? Duelling discourses in interdisciplinary systems biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2): 155–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Canguilhem, Georges. 1988. Ideology and Rationality in the History of the Life Sciences. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Canguilhem, Georges. 1991. The Normal and the Pathological, Trans. Carolyn R. Fawcett, Robert S. Cohen. New York: Zone Books.Google Scholar
  17. Canguilhem, Georges. 2008. The Knowledge of Life. New York: Fordham UP.Google Scholar
  18. Cavaliere, Giulia. 2017. Genome editing and assisted reproduction: Curing embryos, society or prospective parents? Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-017-9793-y.Google Scholar
  19. Collier, Stephen J., and Andrew Lakoff. 2008. On regimes of living. In Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems, eds. Collier, Stephen J., Andrew Lakoff, and Paul Rabinow. New York: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Collins, Francis S. 2015. Statement on the NIH funding of research using gene-editing technologies in human embryos. National Institute of Health (NIH). http://www.nih.gov/about-nih/who-we-are/nihdirector/statements/statement-nih-funding-research-using-gene-editing-technologies-human-embryos. Accessed 15 December 2017.
  21. Conrad, Peter, and Jonathan Gabe. 1999. Introduction: Sociological perspectives on the new genetics: An overview. Sociology of Health & Illness 21 (5): 505–551.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.00170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Csete, M., and J. C. Doyle. 2002. Reverse engineering of biological complexity. Science 295 (5560): 1664–1669.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1069981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dean, Mitchell. 1999. Governmentality. Power and Rule in Modern Society. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
  24. Dreyfus, Hubert L, and Rabinow, Paul. 1983. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality, Volume I. Introduction. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  26. Foucault, Michel. 1982. The subject and power. Critical Inquiry 8 (4): 777–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Foucault, Michel. 2007. Security, Territory, Population. Lectures at the Collège de France 197778. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  28. Foucault, Michel. 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  29. Franklin, Sarah. 2013. Biological Relatives. IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Franklin, Sarah, and Susan McKinnon. 2001. Relative Values: Reconfiguring Kinship Studies. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Fujimura, Joan H. 2005. Postgenomic futures: Translations across the machine-nature border in systems biology. New Genetics and Society 24 (2): 195–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Giddens, Anthony. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  33. Glad, John. 2006. Future Human Evolution: Eugenics in the Twenty-First Century. Hermitage Publishers.Google Scholar
  34. Gottweis, Herbert. 2005. Comparing Biobanks: Towards a New Form of Biopolitics? Lecture for the International Comparison of IHTs Workshop, Rome.Google Scholar
  35. Haraway, Donna. 1991. Simians, Cyborgs and Women. NewYork: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Haraway, Donna. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  37. Harris, John. 2007. Enhancing Evolution: the Ethical Case for Making People Better. Princeton, Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Heavey, Patrick. 2015. Integrating ethical analysis “Into the DNA” of synthetic biology. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 18 (1): 121–127.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-014-9588-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Helmreich, Stefan. 2011. What was life? Answers from three limit biologies. Critical Inquiry 37 (4): 671–696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Holmberg, Tora, Nete Schwennesen, and Andrew Webster. 2011. Bio-objects and the bio-objectification process. Croatian Medical Journal 52 (6): 740–742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jinek, Martin, Alexandra East, Aaron Cheng, Steven Lin, Enbo Ma, and Jennifer Doudna. 2013. RNA-programmed genome editing in human cells. eLIFE.  https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00471.Google Scholar
  42. Kac, Eduardo, ed. 2007. Signs of Life. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  43. Kerr, Anne, and Sarah Cunningham-Burley. 2000. On ambivalence and risk: Reflexive modernity and the new human genetics. Sociology 34 (2): 283–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kirksey, Eben S., and Stefan Helmreich. 2010. The emergence of multispecies etnography. Cultural Anthropology 25 (4): 545–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lemke, Thomas. 2004. Disposition and determinism. Genetic diagnosis in risk society. The Sociological Review 52 (4): 550–566.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2004.00495.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lemke, Thomas. 2005. From eugenics to the government of genetic risk. In Genetic Governance. Health, Risk and Ethics in the Biotech Era, eds. Robin Bunton and Alan Petersen. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Lemke, Thomas. 2011. Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction (Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the 21st Century). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Lemke, Thomas. 2013. Perspectives on Genetic Discrimination. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lupton, Deborah. 1999. Risk and Sociocultural Theory: New Directions and Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lupton, Deborah. 2013. Risk. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  51. Mulvihill, J.J., et al. 2017. Ethical issues of CRISPR technology and gene editing through the lens of solidarity. British Medical Bulletin 122 (1): 17:17–29.  https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldx002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nilsson, Jakob, and Sven-Olov Wallenstein. 2013. Foucault, Biopolitics and Governmentality. Stockholm: Södertörn Philosophical Studies.Google Scholar
  53. Rabinow, Paul. 1996. Artificiality and enlightenment: From sociobiology to biosociality. In Anthropologies of Modernity: Foucault, Governmentality and Life Sciences, ed. J. X. Inda, 181–193. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  54. Rabinow, Paul. 2003. Anthropos Today. Reflections on Modern Equipment. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Rabinow, Paul, and Gaymon Bennett. 2012. Synthetic biology, ethical ramifications. Systems and Synthetic Biology 3 (1–4): 99–108.Google Scholar
  56. Rabinow, Paul, and Nikolas Rose. 2006. Biopower today. BioSocieties 1 (2): 195–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rapp, Rayana. 2000. Testing the Fetus. The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  58. Raz, Aviad E. 2009. Eugenic utopias/dystopias, reprogenetics, and community genetics. Sociology of Health & Illness 31 (4): 602–616.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9566.2009.01160.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Redman, Melody, Andrew King, Caroline Watson, and David King. 2016. What is CRISPR/Cas9? Archives of Disease in Childhood. Education and Practice Edition 101 (4): 213–215.  https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2016-310459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rettner, Rachael. 2016. Controversial Human Embryo Editing: 5 Things to Know. Life Science, September 23. http://www.livescience.com/56243-human-embryo-editing.html. Accessed 15 December 2016.
  61. Rose, Nikolas. 2007. The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power and Subjectivity in the Twenty First Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Saey, Tina H. 2016. New era of human embryo gene editing begins. Science News, Magazine of the Society & Public, September 23. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new-era-human-embryo-gene-editing-begins. Accessed 2 February 2017.
  63. Schyfter, Camacho P., and Jane Calvert. 2015. Intentions, expectations and institutions: Engineering the future of synthetic biology in the US and the UK. Science as Culture 24 (4): 359–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Šmídová, Iva, Eva Šlesingerová a Lenka Slepičková. 2015. Games of Life. Czech Reproductive Biomedicine. Sociological Perspectives. Brno: Munipress.  https://doi.org/10.5817/CZ.MUNI.M210-7734-2015.
  65. Sontag, Susan. 1977. Illness as Metaphor. New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  66. Strathern, Marilyn. 1996. After Nature: English Kinship in the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Trommelmans, Leen, Joseph Selling, and Kris Dierickx. 2009. Is tissue engineering a new paradigm in medicine? Consequences for the ethical evaluation of tissue engineering research. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 12 (4): 459–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vogel, Gretchen, and Erik Stokstad. 2015. U.K. Parliament approves controversial three-parent mitochondrial gene therapy. Science.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa7793.Google Scholar
  69. Zwart, Hub. 2012. On decoding and rewriting genomes: A psychoanalytical reading of a scientific revolution. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 15 (3): 337–346.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-011-9351-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations