Animal Controversies.ppt

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Dec 12, 2012 (4 years and 8 months ago)

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Animal Controversies


Animals, Bio
-
technology and

Human Society

This Week’s Lectures



The significance of bio
-
technology in late modern society.



The controversial use of animals in bio
-
technology.



Three social scientific analyses of animal controversies.



Moral, ethical, social, and radical critiques of animal bio
-
technology.



Envisaging bio
-
technological futures.



Public attitudes and official ethics.



The reshaping of global nature
-
cultures.


Key Questions:


-

What do the controversies surrounding the use of animals in bio
-
technology tell us about late modern society and culture?


-

How does the genetic modification of animals challenge our
conventional separation of nature and society?


-

How do the new genetics and bio
-
technologies impact upon our
sense of human/animal species boundaries?




Late Modernity and

Bio
-
technology

We live in age of bio
-
technology: the media regularly
report scientific ‘breakthroughs’ which seem to promise
to change our lives fundamentally.



The language (or ‘discourse’) of genetics is everywhere:
DNA has come to be seen as the essence of an organism’s
individuality, the ‘code’ for ‘
life itself
’ (genetic determinism).


With the development of human and animal ‘genomics’
(the mapping of whole gene sequences) our humanity is
increasingly defined in genetic terms.


We therefore look to geneticists and scientific ‘experts’ to tell
us ‘objectively’
what it means to be human
.

Challenging Human Identity

But the prevalence of genetic discourse has caused problems
for the modern (anthropocentric)
distinction
between
humans

and
nonhuman animals
.


E.g. Genomic research has revealed that we share 98.7% of
our genes with chimps, so in strictly genetic terms not only
are chimps essentially human, but humans are basically
chimps.


But this is just one of a whole series of challenges posed by
new bio
-
technologies to:





-

the human/animal boundary





-

the culture/nature distinction



These challenges are sharpest where animals are used in
biotechnology:


“It is clear that the prospect pf applying genetic biotechnology to
animals raises particular public sensitivities, and that existing
and current applications have far
-
reaching ramifications for
society’s relationships with animals” (Phil McNaghten 2004,
534).


“The science of genomics and the manipulation of animal
genomes raises novel issues and promotes new ways of
thinking about what animals are, how they involve and relate
to each other, and the social and biological relationships
between humans and animals” (Matthew Harvey 2007, 1).


So the genetic modification of animals and their use in
biotechnology raises complex and difficult issues for
sociology.

The Use of Nonhuman Animals in Science

“Animals are commonplace in bio
-
technological research, as
principal objects of study or as conduits and models for
understanding human biology” (Matthew Harvey 2007, 1).


But like slaughterhouses or animal testing laboratories, the use of
animals in bio
-
technology is almost
invisible in everyday social life
.


We are dimly aware of these sciences, but we prefer not to
acknowledge them


they are
an ‘absent presence’
.


Whereas most people are straightforwardly opposed to cosmetics
testing on animals, the use of animals in bio
-
technological research
with possible medical benefits to humans is something many people
feel deeply ambiguous about.


This ambiguity highlights the tensions and contradictions in
modern society’s attitudes to science, nature and animals.



Reshaping Animal Biology:

How are Animals used in Bio
-
technology?

Xenotransplantation/transgenesis


the
transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one
species to another (e.g. from pigs or cows to humans) to
produce ‘transgenic animals’.


Uses


Proposed as a means to solve the long
-
term problem
of huge demand for
transplant organs

and lack of availability
of human donors in cases of end
-
stage human
organ failure

(heart, liver, kidney and lung failure).


Problems


As well as ethical issues there are many technical
difficulties: Risk of ‘
xenozoonosis
’ (transfer of animal
diseases to humans via the transplant), and high incidence
of
immune rejection

(due to different DNA).


Animal Genomics


the ‘mapping’ of animal gene
sequences in order to build up a ‘complete’ picture of the genetic
identity of a species.


Uses


sufficiently extensive gene
-
mapping will dramatically assist
selective breeding, the control of animal stocks, and could even enable
the ‘reprogramming’ of organisms according to commercial, agricultural,
scientific or medical needs.


Problems


critics argue that these levels of knowledge and control of
animal biology will lead to an intensification of exploitation.

Animal Cloning


cloning is the production of a new,
genetically identical individual from a single parent animal.


Uses
-

sometimes seen as a promising tool for preserving endangered
species, as well as producing transgenic animals for medical research
and agriculture.


Problems


cloned animals seem to have considerably shortened
lifespans, possibly due to shortened ‘telomeres’, which equate to
premature ageing.


‘Humanimals’?

The Spectre of Hybrids

Xenotransplantation (the insertion of human genes, cells or organs
into nonhuman animals, and/or vice
-
versa) appears to represent
a fundamental transgression of the human/animal boundary
.


This raises all kinds of ethical, cultural and philosophical
problems:


-

Are the resulting creatures humans or nonhumans?

-

Are they ‘humanimals’ (hybrids of human and animal)?

-

On what basis can we classify them?

-

What is their moral status?


These issues are sharpened by the fact that the main use of these
‘humanimals’ is for laboratory tests and medical research.

The Fear and Fascination of Monsters

From Mary Shelley’s (1818)
‘Frankenstein’

to Ishiro Honda’s (1954)
‘Godzilla’
, modern cultures have consistently used monsters,
mutants, and hybrids as
potent cultural symbols
.


These ‘abominations’ allow us to reassert our
classifications
, our
ideas of the ‘natural’ and ‘normal’
, precisely by violating them


because our rejection of these ‘freaks’ reinforces our belief that
what is ‘unnatural’ is also
immoral

(this is the function of ‘taboo’).


But monsters are also more ambiguous, because the conjuring
of such hybrids in the
imagination

of science fiction is
usually a fantastical comment on
real developments

in
science

(e.g. Shelley on 19
th
C medicine and anatomy).


So monsters represent our
deepest anxieties

about modern science
but also our awareness of its
creative power
.





Animal Controversies 1:

The OncoMouse™

On April 12
th

1988, a patent was issued to genetics researchers
at Harvard University for
the world’s first patented animal



the
OncoMouse
™:
A transgenic biomedical laboratory animal.


Licensed by Harvard to the bio
-
tech corporation Du Pont, and
marketed by Charles River Laboratories in Massachussets.


The OncoMouse™ is a genetically engineered mouse which
contains in each of its cells a gene for cancer (an
‘oncogene’) which it passes on to all of its offspring:


“OncoMouse™ reliably develops neo
-
plasms (tumours) within
months… and offers you a shorter path to answers about
cancer” (Du Pont advert in
Science

magazine, April 1990).


Donna Haraway’s Analysis

“Buying and selling, breeding and selecting, experimenting on, and
contesting the treatment of laboratory animals are not new
activities, but the controversies surrounding the patenting and
marketing of ‘the Harvard mouse’ were densely covered in the
popular and scientific press in Europe and the US” (1997, 80).


So why did the OncoMouse™ generate so much controversy?


Donna Haraway (1997) suggests that the OncoMouse™ is many
things at once:


-

A living animal (and an object of global animal rights discourses).

-

An animal model for cancer (especially breast cancer).

-

A scientific research tool for building knowledge.

-

A commodity in the exchange
-
circuits of global capitalism.

OncoMouse™ as ‘Vampire’

But above all Haraway argues that the OncoMouse™ is a
powerful symbol of “the significant traffic between the
categories of nature and culture” (1997, 79).


This is what makes the OncoMouse™ a ‘vampire’:


“Her status as an invention who/which remains a living animal is
what makes her
a vampire
, subsisting in the realms of the
undead” (79).


What is a Vampire?





A narrative figure which signifies the
crossing of natural boundaries

(between living/dead, subject/object, human/nonhuman).


“The essence of vampires is the pollution of natural kinds” (80).

So vampires are inherently
ambiguous



they are figures of
violation

(of taboo), but also of
possibility

(of immortality).


Haraway points out that “Desire and fear are the
appropriate reactions to vampires” (1917, 80).


i.e. we fear vampires because they challenge our
distinctions between what is ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’,
and what is human and nonhuman.


This suggests that genetically engineered creatures like the
OncoMouse™ are controversial because
they destabilise
our sense of what it means to be human
:


They are like us enough to be useful, but unlike us enough
to be used


a highly contradictory position.

Feminist Technoscience:

Understanding Haraway

Haraway uses real and allegorical cases with potent symbolic
significance to illustrate her essential point:


i.e. that nature and culture, science and politics, biology and capitalism,
humans and animals, are
perpetually combined and recombined

within the late modern social
-
economic
-
technological formation
which she calls
‘technoscience’.


Haraway uses often fantastical language rich with metaphor and
ambiguity in order to make this argument.


Significantly, Haraway is
neither

a social constructivist
nor

a critical
realist, because she acknowledges both the
‘semiotics’

(symbolic
cultural meanings) and the
‘materiality’

(actual biology and natural
properties) of the entities she discusses.




For Haraway the OncoMouse™ signifies a world in which “nature
and culture are spliced together and enterprised up” (1997, 85).


Another metaphorical entity Haraway uses to express this is the
‘cyborg’:

A fusion of the human being with technology.


She also incorporates established
socialist

and
feminist

concerns by
stressing that these ‘vampires’ and ‘cyborgs’ are also:


-

commodities within a global capitalist system.


-

beings located within a cultural system of gendered meanings.


-

sentient beings with which we share our existence and to which
we often owe a great deal
(e.g. the OncoMouse™ as suffering
Christ figure).


So Haraway shows how all these elements are brought together by
‘technoscience’

in complex combinations that demand an
innovative socialist
-
feminist politics which is attentive to our kinship
(close relations) with other animals.





Animal Controversies 2:

Re
constructing Salmon Biology

Rik Scarce (2000)


‘Fishy Business: Salmon, Biology, and the
Social Construction of Nature’.


-

traces how salmon biologists ‘socially construct’ salmon.


But Scarce acknowledges that salmon biologists do not construct
salmon ‘just as they please’, but in the context of
struggles

between:


-

scientific freedom and commercial pressures

-

researchers and managers

-

biologists and environmental campaigners

-

laboratories and fisheries

-

communities and even between countries.


So salmon are a site for multiple social struggles over the meaning
(and the control) of nature.



Genetically Modified Salmon

These struggles are particularly pronounced over the issue of
genetically modified salmon.


Because the
gene
-
mapping of salmon

has both
biological

and
economic

implications:


“Once the genes are mapped, complete, widespread tooling of the
genetic make
-
up of salon will be possible” (2000, 117).


This will allow several techniques:


A) The creation of ‘triploids’: these are salmon with 3 sets of
chromosomes rather than the usual 2, making them sterile.



Producing triploids has the advantage of increasing the chances
of survival of inter
-
species hybrids.











“For example, you can cross a rainbow trout female with a coho
salmon male, and normally none of the offspring will survive.
But if you make a triploid, and we usually do that by heat
treating the eggs at a specific temperature shortly after
fertilization, you can make a fish that survives which is two
-
thirds rainbow trout and one third coho salmon. So it’s
interesting then, to study their characteristics, to see if they
have some interesting traits” (Alex Stand


salmon geneticist,
in Rik Scarce 2000, 117).


This may be deeply objectionable to anti
-
geneticists and animal
rights activists, but triploids also have a
conservation

use:


The production of sterile fish can be a way to prevent farmed
salmon from interbreeding with wild fish if they escape and
changing their genetic make
-
up, a significant bio
-
diversity risk
(esp. in Scotland and Canada).

B)

DNA ‘fingerprinting’: this allows for the quick
identification of fish from different stocks.


This technique also has seemingly contradictory (
commercial

and
conservation
) uses.


E.g. genetic techniques may be valuable for answering
conservation
-
related questions such as the differences that
develop over time between farmed and wild salmon.


So the issues around genetic modification are not clear cut,
and Rik Scarce views genetically modified salmon as
a site
of social struggle and contested meanings.


Especially a struggle to control and appropriate salmon
biology between conservationist vs. industrial
-
commercial interests.


From this perspective the technology itself may be neutral: it
is a question of who
controls

the technology and who
determines how it is
used
.


Rik Scarce argues that the trend towards genetic modification is
unstoppable because it offers
new ways of understanding

(and therefore
controlling
) salmon, which are useful to many
social groups with different agendas.


This means that increasingly salmon will not only be ‘socially
constructed’ through struggles over their meaning and use,
but also ‘physically reconstructed’ by humans.


“The knowledge being created represents the possibility of a level
of control over the salmon that only a few years ago was
unimaginable… The industrialized construction of salmon will
then be complete. Salmon will have two identities. They will still
be fish, but they also will have been reproduced by society as
entirely new entities, new
social

facts” (Scarce 2000, 120).




So will salmon then be ‘natural’ creatures or ‘social’
inventions?




Will they be ‘hybrids’ of nature and society?


Animal Controversies 3:

‘Dolly’ the Cloned Sheep

‘Dolly’

(1996
-
2003) was the first animal to be cloned from an adult
‘somatic’ cell (as distinct from the ‘gamete’ cells from which
embryos normally develop) using the process of ‘nuclear transfer’.


Somatic Cell Nuclear transfer

= removing the DNA from an
unfertilized egg, and injecting a nucleus containing the DNA to be
cloned. Theoretically the newly constructed cell will then replicate
the inserted DNA, and if placed in the uterus of a female mammal
a cloned organism will develop.


The successful production of Dolly proved that a cell taken from a
specific body part (a mammary gland


hence the name ‘Dolly’, i.e.
Dolly Parton) could be used to recreate a whole organism.


This was the end result of years of research funded by the UK
government at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.



‘Dolly Mixtures’:
Sarah Franklin’s
Analysis

Sarah Franklin (2007)


‘Dolly Mixtures: The Remaking of
Genealogy’.


Genealogy

= a complex lineage or line of descent in which a single
element is the product of multiple influences, like a family tree.


Franklin (p. 2) suggests that ‘Dolly is a mixture not only because she
embodies a novel technique for combining genes and cells but
because she constitutes the outcome of a lengthy and complex
historical and biological genealogy as an experimentally bred sheep’.


For Franklin Dolly is the product of multiple overlapping
histories:


-

of the colonial wool trade




-

of animal domestication

-

of the industrialization of livestock
-

of reproductive bio
-
medicine



Franklin calls Dolly a

bio
-
cultural entity
’.


‘Bio
-
cultural’ emphasizes the inseparability of bio
-
technologies
from the
systems of meaning

(culture) that they both
reproduce and depend upon:


-

Including beliefs about nature, reproduction, scientific progress,
and categories such as sex, gender, and species.


Franklin argues that “Because Dolly’s assisted creation out of
technologically altered cells confirms the viability of new forms
of coming into being, of procreation, her existence can be
seen to redefine the limits of the biological, with implications
for how both sex and reproduction are understood and
practiced.” (2007, 5).


i.e. Dolly challenges our understanding of biology as simply
‘natural’.


The Method of ‘Mixtures’:


Assessing Franklin

‘Dolly Mixtures’ traces with great skill how the cloned sheep in
question is the outcome of
complex intersections

of international
capitalism, colonial history, animal domestication, agricultural
science, selective breeding and bio
-
technology.


However:

Like Donna Haraway, Franklin could be accused of being
content to simply
describe

connections without really
analysing
them, without identifying underlying structures, hierarchies of
causes, etc.


Like Haraway she weaves a very skilfully and vividly written
tapestry, but it seems to have no central critical point.


From this point of view, Franklin’s approach is not analytical
enough, and perhaps not sociological enough.

Animal Controversies


Animals, Bio
-
technology and

Human Society

From Natural Selection to Genetic
Manipulation: A Radical Break?

The distinction between older methods of
selective breeding

and
genetic modification

is not absolute.


Arguably human selection (breeding) is already a
break from
‘nature’

(natural selection) and genetics is only a step further.


From this point of view the difference is mainly one of
time
:
genetic techniques allow much
faster

selection of desirable
qualities.


However, genetic technologies such as xenotransplantation
transgress species boundaries

in a way that selective
breeding could never do (so a stronger argument can perhaps
be made that these technologies create ‘
unnatural kinds
’).

‘Unnatural Kinds’?
For and Against
Respecting the Integrity of Species

Against:


A common public view is that science should not ‘interfere’ with the
‘building blocks’ of nature, and should therefore
respect the
integrity of species

rather than modifying them to suit humans.


But
Darwin

showed that
species are not fixed entities
, they are
always
changing

and continually
shaped by their environment
.


He also showed that evolution is not governed by any ‘grand plan’
given by God or nature, but merely by a
struggle

for survival.


So if natural selection already ‘interferes’ with species, then
why shouldn’t humans do so?





“What or who sanctifies?” (James Watson, co
-
discoverer of DNA)

…For and Against

Respecting the
Integrity of Species

For:


Current species are the product of countless
millennia of
adaptation

to the environment through natural selection.


Therefore the fact that species are not fixed for eternity does
not mean that they are constantly shifting: the
time
-
scale

involved in species evolution is immense.


This difference in time
-
scales between natural selection and
genetic modification should induce some
human modesty
.


The speed of genetic modification could lead to disastrous
unanticipated consequences

(re: ‘The Risk Society’).

‘Going Against Nature’:

The Essentialist Critique

Rooted in a religious worldview and also influenced
by
romanticism
.


Views nature as sacrosanct (‘God
-
given’):


human ‘meddling’ with nature’s ‘design’ (i.e. with the
integrity of nature) is immoral, arrogant and bound
to disaster.


Interprets the difference between selective breeding
and genetic modification in
absolute

terms.


Adopts the discourse of the ‘
unnatural
’ as the

immoral
’ or ‘unhealthy’ (where healthy = virtuous).


Bio
-
technological Risk?


Animal biotechnology faces a variety of
uncertainties, safety issues and potential risks.


E.g.

concerns have been raised regarding:




The use of ‘vectors’ (i.e. viruses designed to
transfer DNA into an organism) with the potential to
be transferred to gene sequences of
other
organisms
.




The potential effects of genetically modified animals
on the
environment
.




Human
health and food safety

concerns for meat or
animal products derived from animal biotechnology.


Vital Interests?

The Rights
-
Based Critique

Opposes the genetic manipulation of animals and practices such as
xenotransplantation on ethical grounds.


Argues that these technologies violate the animals’
‘vital interests’

-

to ‘
express their nature
’, to be
free from abuse
, and
not to be
killed
.


Rejects the notion that the use of animals in science should be
based on finding a ‘balance’ between human interests and
animal ‘
welfare
’. Instead sees the

rights’ of animals

as
equivalent in principle to
human rights

(e.g. Peter Singer).


Suggests that the increasing use of animals in bio
-
technology
represents a ‘step backwards’ from
civilised values

(re: Elias),
towards an increasing tolerance of
cruelty

and
mistreatment.


Genomic Capitalism?

The Social Critique

Less concerned with the essential immorality or ethics of
genetic technologies and more concerned with how
social
structures of inequality

are likely to determine their
use
.


Points to the legacy of ‘
eugenics’

(scientific racism) in the new
genetic technologies (‘The Bell Curve’).


Envisages
unequal access

to genetic technologies based on
disparities of wealth

(e.g. life extension for the wealthy).


Points to the
political control

and
social engineering

implications of genomic technologies (‘Brave New World’).

Bio
-
Politics?

The Radical Critique

Nikolas Rose (2007)


‘The Politics of Life Itself’
.


Focuses on how genomics and bio
-
tech science are being driven
by powerful
corporate capitalist interests
, so much so that we
are seeing the emergence of a

bio
-
capitalism
’.


Argues that these new forms of knowledge are also creating new
possibilities for the
social control of populations

by political
authorities, in a widespread
politicization of ‘life itself
’ (through
biomedicine, biotechnology, and pharmacology).


Suggests that these new form of
‘bio
-
power’

are leading to new
definitions of what it means to be human, in emerging forms of
‘bio
-
citizenship’.


Scientist Fiction:

Bio
-
technological Utopias

Supporters of genomics and bio
-
technology often conjure up
spectacular futures

in which all kinds of human limitations have been
transcended.


“It conjures up worlds where disease will be precisely targeted,
human ageing retarded, and biology re
-
written” (Tim May 2007).


E.g.

“Will our children live to be 160? Will the replacement of damaged
human body parts become routine maintenance?” (Forum 2006).


But whilst it is easy to dismiss these
‘futurist’ visions
, they are neither a
matter of fact nor pure hype, but they occupy the space in
-
between,
where
new worlds are imagined

(and sometimes built).


For this reason, these bio
-
technological visions of the future are
sociologically significant.


Nightmare Visions:

Bio
-
technological Dystopias

Aldous Huxley (1932)


‘Brave New World’.


Huxley imagined a future in which humans are
biologically
engineered

in test tubes to be adapted to certain roles
according to a rigid
social hierarchy

which cannot be
challenged because it is entrenched in people’s biology.


E.g.

workers destined to perform the most mundane and
repetitive tasks were given doses of alcohol whilst at a
critical stage of foetal development to inhibit mental ability.


This kind of scenario may seem fantastical, but critical
sociologists point to the
very real potential

that genomics
and bio
-
technology will be used for (or lead to) the
reproduction and extension of
social control

and
inequality
.

Culture Without Limits?

For strict social constructionism, bio
-
technology signals
‘the end of nature’

as a set of ‘natural limits’ to the
possibilities of human culture.


On this view ‘life itself’ has become socially and
culturally malleable or ‘plastic’.


This means that there really is
no fixed ‘nature
’ beyond
what humans socially and technologically construct.


For social constructionists like Rik Scarce (2000) this
underlines the need to understand nature in terms of
how it is
socially interpreted
, used and understood.

The Disappearance of Nature?

Bio
-
postmodernism

In its most radical version this amounts to
‘bio
-
postmodernism’.


i.e.

the argument that humans now have the technological potential
to fully
transcend
their ‘natural’ and ‘biological’ limitations.


Bio
-
postmodernism suggests that we are
free from the constraints
of nature

and can now
re
-
shape

the world and ourselves
according to our desires.


i.e.

We have become metaphorical ‘
cyborgs
’ (hybrids of nature and
technology) who can ‘
re
-
program’ our own nature

at will.


This takes the idea of ‘
reflexivity
’ (our ability to reflect upon and
change our own actions) and extends it into our biological nature,
so that humans are viewed as
wholly self
-
creating beings
.

The Persistence of Nature:

A Realist Response

But critical realists argue that the
reality

of the new genetic and
bio
-
technologies is far more modest than the
exaggerations

of
scientists and media commentators often suggest.


Biology remains overwhelmingly a domain of
unalterable facts

which humans have very
limited control

over.


Bio
-
technology is beset with all kinds of
problems
,
risks

and
potential for
unintended consequences
: it rarely lives up to its
promise and is not ‘miracle science’.


Critical realists point to the irony of our hubris (over
-
confidence)
at a time when human societies are globally threatened by a
natural phenomenon
beyond our control

(i.e. climate change).

A Sceptical Account:

Scientific Hyperbole vs. Modest Realities

Despite its symbolic significance the OncoMouse™ was
unsuccessful

as a technoscientific commodity


it never sold very widely, even at a
loss
-
making price.


Despite the ambitious language of genomics, only
very small

sections of
animal gene sequences have as yet been mapped. The ambition of
total gene
-
mapping is
far from realisation
.


For all the controversy it has generated, xenotransplantation has only
been used to substitute human organ function for
short periods

(with
constant medical intervention) whilst waiting for human organs


it
may
never

be viable for long
-
term animal to human transplants.


Dolly the sheep was the
only

clone in
277 similar attempts

to survive
into adulthood, and then lived for only 6 years, barely half of the
normal life expectancy for a sheep (12
-
15 years).

Animal Controversies:


Public Attitudes and Official Ethics

Phil McNaghten (2004)



Argues that the core reason for public
controversy over GM animals is that “
they symbolize and give
voice to underlying tensions between ‘moral’ and ‘instrumental’
approaches to animals
” (2004, 533).


McNaghten notes that
expert advocates

of animal bio
-
technology
such as the UK Agricultural and Environmental Biotechnology
Commission (AEBC) have acknowledged the need to take
public concerns

into account in order to effectively extend the
use of GM animals.


But he criticizes official bodies for classifying public ethical
concerns as either ‘
deontological
’ or ‘
utilitarian
’:



‘Deontological’ ethics:

focuses on the ‘
intrinsic’ rightness or
‘wrongness
’ of the bio
-
technology, including:


-

the idea that it is ‘blasphemous’ (‘playing God with nature’)


-

the idea that it is ‘unnatural’ (breaches species boundaries)


-

the idea that it is ‘disrespectful’ (violates the ‘right’ of the
organism to express its own nature)


‘Consequentialist’ ethics:

focuses on the
possible
consequences

of the bio
-
technology, including:


-

the consequences of the technology for animal welfare


-

the possible risks to human health


-

the risks to the environment and genetic diversity

On this basis
official reports into public concerns

tend to
dismiss what they call ‘deontological’ concerns as based
on a ‘
naturalistic fallacy
’.


‘Naturalistic Fallacy’

= an ‘irrational’ belief in ‘God
-
given’
natural barriers

between species, which gene transfer
technologies are believed to
violate
, when in fact the same
genetic outcomes can be achieved (much more slowly)
through selective breeding.


This argument is used by official bodies such as the AEBC to
marginalise public concerns
.


But McNaghten argues that this framework for understanding
public concerns over animal bio
-
technology is
too narrow

and therefore
misrepresents public attitudes.


His research suggests that people’s ‘deontological’ attitudes to the use
of animals in biotechnology are not based on a naturalistic fallacy but
upon the ‘embodied social practices’ which connect particular social
groups and individuals with animals.


i.e. the activities through which different kinds of people experience and
reflect upon animals in their daily lives.


E.g. as pets, in sport, as wild creatures, as prey, and as subjects of
scientific research.


McNaghten also argues that what official bodies call ‘consequentialist’
ethical attitudes reveal deep public unease and distrust of how bio
-
technoscience is institutionally regulated and governed:


“The misgivings people express towards the applications of GM animal
technologies appear to be reflections of broader syndromes of
mistrust towards those institutions seen as responsible for such
applications” (2004, 547). (Re: Ulrich Beck


‘The Risk Society’).

Summary: The Remaking of Global
Nature
-
Cultures

Late modernity has seen the emergence of biotechnology
and genetics as new and powerful
ways of knowing and
acting upon nature.


These developments are not just important for science, but
also have very significant
social/sociological implications
.


The discourse (language) of genetics has permeated deeply
into our
society and culture
, so that we increasingly view
the world and ourselves in terms of genetics.


These developments have challenged
anthropocentric
definitions of human identity
, which elevate humans above
the nonhuman world of animals and nature.



Summary

Animals are frequently used in bio
-
tech research, a fact that
generates deep
public unease
, which has in turn fed the
controversies

surrounding bio
-
technology.


These controversies can be understood as a symptom of the
tensions and contradictions

at the heart of modern
society’s relationships with animals.


Public attitudes to the use of animals in biotechnology are
typically
mixed

and deeply
ambiguous
, but there is a
consistent feeling that the genetic manipulation of animals
is ‘
going against nature
’.


This is rooted in the idea that animal bio
-
technology produces

unnatural kinds
’ which transgress the
natural boundaries

between species.

Summary

The common fear of ‘unnatural kinds’ is part of a long history of
social ‘
taboo
’, in which ‘
monsters
’ of one kind or another have
served to reinforce society’s notions of the ‘natural’ and
‘normal’, and its
boundaries between the human and the
nonhuman
.


They can also be seen as part of a ‘
naturalistic fallacy
’ which
regards
species boundaries

as fixed, ‘God
-
given’, and
inviolable.


This in turn supports
anthropocentric definitions of human identity

as essentially
separate

from and
superior

to other animals.


The controversy generated by the ‘
hybrids
’ produced in
biotechnologies such as xenotransplantation and cloning can
therefore be understood as reactions to the
challenge

hybrids
pose to this sense of
human identity
.

Summary

But
public unease

at the use of animals in bio
-
technology can
also be seen as rooted in people’s
everyday relationships
with animals



their ‘
embodied social practices
’. This is
usually overlooked by official ethics committees.


Equally, there are various different kinds of critique that can
be made of bio
-
technology, from
animal rights

positions to
radical critiques

of ‘bio
-
capitalism’ and ‘bio
-
politics’. These
are not all reducible to a ‘naturalistic fallacy’.


“The ills that afflict most human beings now and in the
foreseeable future require no high tech solutions


merely
clean water, sufficient food, a living wage, and moderately
competent politicians and bureaucrats


and they are
unlikely to be significantly ameliorated by developments in
biomedicine” (Nikolas Rose 2007, 78
-
9).