Genomics and biotechnology have generated controversy for decades, about the moral limits of tinkering with and commodifying life, the boundary between nature and technology, the respectful treatment of research participants, and the proper evaluation of emerging technologies. Socio-legal and science and technology studies scholars have demonstrated how the resolution of these questions has serious implications for both science and the law, including the appropriate conduct and direction of scientific research and the construction of legal categories and rights. This article demonstrates that these conflicts also have profound impacts on the politics of science and technology, and particularly approaches to relevant knowledge and expertise. Humanities, social scientific, legal, and lay knowledge asserted themselves through the establishment of human genetics research and battles over the ownership of biological materials and data. However, US political culture—which favors technical and market knowledge—constrained their authority. Cross-national comparison highlights this finding, as other jurisdictions have been more inclusive in their approaches to science and technology governance.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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