Genomic hope: promise in the bioeconomy

Authored by: Paul Martin

Handbook of Genomics, Health and Society

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138211957
eBook ISBN: 9781315451695
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315451695-11

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Abstract

The field of genomics has attracted massive public and private investment over the last 20 years. It has been surrounded by high expectations that it will transform medicine and healthcare. These hopes provided the foundation for the creation of the genomics and biopharmaceutical industry, the adoption of genomic tools across life sciences research, and the integration of genomic knowledge into the core processes of the bio/pharmaceutical industry. More recently, the growth of genomic knowledge has been directly linked to new discourses about the possibility of a bioeconomy based on the production and commodification of knowledge about all living systems. In particular, the bioeconomy involves the collection, extraction and analysis of biomaterials and bio-objects, and the combination of this with different forms of individual and collective data. In the context of human health this integration focuses on the sequencing of genomes and linking these to personal medical information on a population scale with the aim of developing new diagnostic tests and forms of personalised therapy. The notion of the bioeconomy only emerged in the 2000s and was largely absent from public and policy discourse before then, but has since become one of the most important justifications for public investment in genomics.

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