DYNAMIC GENETICS VS MANN ESSAY
This essay was written for our project ‘Dynamic Genetics v Mann’ , exploring the future of synthetic biology. History has shown that political and economic forces have just as great an influence on the development and application of technology as the aspirations of scientists and engineers. With this in mind the project explores not only the technological trajectory of synthetic biology, but by extrapolating current social, economic and political trends, it aims to ground the technology in a wider cultural landscape.
It imagines a world where synthetic biology and gene therapy have moved into the marketplace. In this world, the state’s responsibilities have shifted from health care provision to the provider of health insurance. By calculating the healthcare implications of specific gene combinations, insurance rates are adjusted on a person by person basis, ensuring that individual ‘contributions’ accurately reflect the potential costs associated with their genome.
What new laws and economic models might emerge under these conditions? How will intellectual property be applied and policed when designed genetic material makes its way into people’s bodies and their lives? Who will be the winners and losers in such a world?