Genome editing: the dynamics of continuity, convergence, and change in the engineering of life
Martin P., Morrison M., Turkmendag I., Nerlich B., McMahon A., de Saille S., Bartlett A.
Genome editing enables very accurate alterations to DNA. It promises profound and potentially disruptive changes in healthcare, agriculture, industry, and the environment. This paper presents a multidisciplinary analysis of the contemporary development of genome editing and the tension between continuity and change. It draws on the idea that actors involved in innovation are guided by “sociotechnical regimes” composed of practices, institutions, norms, and cultural beliefs. The analysis focuses on how genome editing is emerging in different domains and whether this marks continuity or disruption of the established biotechnology regime. In conclusion, it will be argued that genome editing is best understood as a technology platform that is being powerfully shaped by this existing regime but is starting to disrupt the governance of biotechnology. In the longer term is it set to converge with other powerful technology platforms, which together will fundamentally transform the capacity to engineer life.