Biotech Juggernaut: Hope, Hype, and Hidden Agendas of Entrepreneurial BioScience relates the intensifying effort of bioentrepreneurs to apply genetic engineering technologies to the human species and to extend the commercial reach of synthetic biology or "extreme genetic engineering." In 1980, legal developments concerning patenting laws transformed scientific researchers into bioentrepreneurs. Often motivated to create profit-driven biotech start-up companies or to serve on their advisory boards, university researchers now commonly operate under serious conflicts of interest. These conflicts stand in the way of giving full consideration to the social and ethical consequences of the technologies they seek to develop. Too often, bioentrepreneurs have worked to obscure how these technologies could alter human evolution and to hide the social costs of keeping on this path. Tracing the rise and cultural politics of biotechnology from a critical perspective, Biotech Juggernaut aims to correct the informational imbalance between producers of biotechnologies on the one hand, and the intended consumers of these technologies and general society, on the other. It explains how the converging vectors of economic, political, social, and cultural elements driving biotechnology’s swift advance constitutes a juggernaut. It concludes with a reflection on whether it is possible for an informed public to halt what appears to be a runaway force.
Table of Contents
Prologue: A Shared Encounter
1. Introduction: The Biotech Juggernaut
2. The Dawn of GM Humans
3. California Cloning – The Campaign
4. California Cloning – The Aftermath
5. Synthetic Biology: Extreme Genetic Engineering
6. The Road to Gattaca
7. Concluding Reflections
Tina Stevens, Ph.D., is Lecturer Emerita at San Francisco State University, Department of History. She is a co-founder of Alliance for Humane Biotechnology, and the author of Bioethics in America: Origins and Cultural Politics (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).
Stuart Newman, Ph.D., is Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at New York Medical College where he studies developmental and evolutionary biology. He was a founding member of the Council for Responsible Genetics and is co-author of Biological Physics of the Developing Embryo (Cambridge, 2005). He is editor of the journal Biological Theory (Springer).
Stevens’ and Newman’s keen insights are grounded both in a long view – putting biotech and its societal implications in broad historical context – and a close-up one, as they recount their personal encounters with the biotech juggernaut in scientific, legal, policy, and advocacy settings. Their stories demonstrate the sweeping commercialization of the biotechnology enterprise, its routine conflicts of interest, and its tendency to exaggerate benefits and minimize hazards. At a time when headlines blare claims of gene-edited babies, their challenge and their guidance are indispensable. Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society
Tina Stevens and Stuart Newman pull the curtain back on the biotech industrial complex, revealing how its toxic combination of clever marketing and political and financial muscle is perpetuating a branch of science at odds with the public interest. Biotech Juggernaut is also the story of how a small group of dedicated activists is fighting back. By the end of this book, you’ll want to join them. Jeremy Gruber, Former President of the Council for Responsible Genetics
Stevens and Newman’s deep familiarity with the events and issues is on clear display in Biotech Juggernaut. Many books address issues in bioscience, yet fall short of the authors’ rich historical and institutional analysis and their especially illuminating case studies. Even fewer are written with such enlightening critical perspective. Elaine Draper, Professor of Sociology, California State University, Los Angeles
Biotech Juggernaut is a compelling exposé of high stakes discoveries in genetics with unrealistic expectations pushed prematurely into clinical applications. The authors take on the quintessential hubris of scientists who thumb their nose at evolution, taking it upon themselves, in the face of broad public opposition, to redesign the human genome opening the door to eugenics. Sheldon Krimsky, Lenore Stern Professor of Humanities & Social Sciences and Adjunct Professor of Public Health & Community Medicine, Tuft University, and author of GMOs Decoded