New wine in old bottles? The biotechnology problem in the history of molecular biology

This paper examines the “biotechnology problem” in the history of molecular biology, namely the alleged reinvention of a basic academic discipline looking for the logic of life, into a typical technoscientific enterprise, closely related to agriculture, medicine, and the construction of markets. The dominant STS model sees the roots of this shift in a radical change of the regime of knowledge production. The paper argues that this scheme needs to be historicized to take into account the past in our biotech present. Looking at the development of breast cancer genetic testing and GMOs as examples of mounting issues of intellectual property, risk and regulation, the paper also argues that historians of biology should pay closer attention to the political, the economical and the legal changes of the last thirty years. Solving the biotech problem requires new categories. The notion of “way of regulating” is given as an example of such notions linking the local and the global
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2008.12.004
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Michel Morange & Matthew Cobb (1999). A History of Molecular Biology. Journal of the History of Biology 32 (3):568-570.
Maurice Cassier (2005). Appropriation and Commercialization of the Pasteur Anthrax Vaccine. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 36 (4):722-742.

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