Proponents of biotechnology claim that advances in this technology will create a better world - a world free of malnutrition and hunger, with less reliance on herbicides and pesticides, better medical diagnosis and treatment through gene discovery, and more efficient policing and prosecution with forensic techniques using DNA evidence. All of this sounds too good to be true. While some innovations in biotechnology provide significant benefits to particular users, the impacts of these technologies on society are often poorly understood. Can biotechnology threaten the social fabric by weakening, even if temporarily, the social cohesion of society?This collection of eight case studies shows how particular applications in agricultural, medical, and forensic biotechnology affect the social cohesiveness of agricultural communities, citizens of the developed and developing world, consumer groups, scientific communities, and society in general. These impacts may be regional and sectoral, national, or global in nature, or specific to particular scientific communities. Each chapter in this book shows the two faces of biotechnology by exposing the promises and perils associated with a range of innovations. The contributors demonstrate how particular kinds of technology-society and technology-corporate configurations affect social cohesion by creating cultures of surveillance, competition, social exclusion, and control. While advances in biotechnology continue to be made in laboratories around the world, a significant social experiment is occurring simultaneously. Will these new technologies unravel, or perhaps realign, the social fabric as we know it? Biotechnology Unglued explores these questions in investigating the impacts of technology on social cohesion.
Michael Mehta is Professor of Sociology and Chair ofthe Sociology of Biotechnology Program at the University ofSaskatchewan.
Acknowledgments 1 Introduction: The Impact of Innovations in Biotechnology on SocialCohesion / Michael Mehta 2 The Impact of Agricultural Biotechnology on Social Cohesion /Michael Mehta 3 Agricultural Biotechnology and Developing Countries: Issues ofPoverty Alleviation, Food Security and Sustainable Development /Jacqueline Broerse and Joske Bunders 4 Legitimation Crisis: Food Safety and Genetically ModifiedOrganisms / Christopher Vanderpool, Toby Ten Eyck and CraigHarris 5 Genetically Modified Foods in Norway: A Consumer Perspective /Margareta Wandel 6 Commercializing Iceland: Biotechnology, Culture and theInformation Society / Kyle Eischen 7 Biotechnology and Social Control: The Canadian DNA Data Bank /Neil Gerlach 8 Biotechnology as Modern Museums of Civilization / AnnetteBurfoot and Jennifer Poudrier 9 The Production, Diffusion and Use of Knowledge in Biotechnology:The Discovery of BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genes / Robert Dalpe, LouiseBouchard and Daniel Ducharme Contributors Index