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EGENIS seminar series: "Responsible Futures:Industrial Biotechnology and the Challenge of Responsible Innovation", Dr Achim Rosemann (University of Exeter)

Egenis seminar series

An Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences seminar
Date11 March 2019
Time15:30 to 17:00
PlaceByrne House

The seminar explores one of the key problems of contemporary society: to develop new forms of technology and industrial production that are safe, sustainable and accepted by the public. Industrial biotechnology (IB) is often portrayed as fulfilling this promise. Hailed as part of a new industrial revolution, IB is seen as offering solutions to some of the world’s largest problems: climate change, clean production, food shortages and major global health issues. However, akin to the industrial transformations of the past, IB is also creating new types of challenges, such as risks arising from manufacturing accidents, unintended environmental effects, and disruptive impacts on economic systems and human societies.

Many IB innovations use controversial technologies, like synthetic biology, gene editing and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These technologies have sparked public opposition which can stifle the development of the IB sector. For these reasons governments, industry bodies and scientists widely agree, it is important to develop industrial biotechnology responsibly.

The seminar is based on an ongoing collaboration with Susan Molyneux-Hodgson and Sally Atkinson. It explores what the adoption of responsible innovation (RI) ideas in the IB sector means in practice. Based on qualitative research and interdisciplinary collaboration with researchers and staff from UK IB companies, we ask: How can industrial biotech – as part of the larger realm of a bio-based economy – progress in ways that correspond to societal and environmental needs, and who gets a say on how these needs are framed? How are ideas of responsibility articulated in IB corporations, and implemented in actual innovation processes? In which ways does RI adoption transform innovation practices, and how do these changes influence what corporations (can) do and how they interact with society, consumers and the environment? The seminar will explore various strategies to answer these questions in the context of a book that will be written over the course of the next months. It will be structured as an interactive workshop in which participants will be invited to actively engage with some of the presented materials and to contribute critical reflection and relevant ideas. 


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