Synthetic biology brings together biotechnology, bio-informatics and genetic engineering. New DNA sequences are assembled to the point where simple unicellular synthetic organisms can be brought to life. As these new organisms could be engineered to fight contamination, operate as biosensors or work as biological circuits, synthetic life has become a new, and promising technological solution to the many problems affecting the planet. Many criticisms have been raised about the inherent risk of bringing to life cell organisms whose functions may not be clearly identified beforehand, but less attention has been devoted to the type of traits and coding functions that are being engineered. Though presented through the language of science, the synthetic life project adopts the language of politics in the subtitles. Engineering synthetic life is as much about re-fashioning society as it is about manipulating nature. Here, I will show how engineering synthetic life is a new, powerful, way to foster a neoliberal approach to sustainable growth.
Institute of Public Goods and Policies, CSIC, Spain
Vincenzo Pavone (M) is Permanent Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Policies of the High Research Council in Spain (CSIC), and member of the SPRI Research Group. His area of expertise is science and technology studies, and his research specifically addresses public engagement and public assessment of science and technology as well as the ethical, social and legal aspects of emerging technologies. He is especially interested in the relationship between neoliberal modes of knowledge production and the emergence of new bioeconomies. More specifically, he is interested in how medical, agricultural (GMOs and Cisgenics) and security biotechnologies reflect and shape social and political changes associated with very different policy areas such as health policy, food and environmental policies as well as security policies. In the field of research and innovation studies, he has been recently advancing a comprehensive study of the reproductive bioeconomy (2010) and of the relationship between the EU and the OECD Bioeconomy strategies and neoliberal policies of research and innovation (In press 2014).