Gene Editing for Everyone? Discourses of DIY Biology’s Involvement with an Emerging Technology

Vaage, N. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation (speaker at event)Talk or presentationAcademic


Do-it-yourself (DIY) biology practitioners have in the past decade become
increasingly involved in the biotechnosciences. This involvement is seen both in
public discussions, and through hands-on use of biotechnologies to modify living
organisms, from bacteria in petri dishes to their own bodies. In the case of the new
technology of CRISPR gene editing, DIY biology has been involved since the birth of
the technology in 2012-13. The first DIY human gene editing experiment was
performed in October 2017, when Josiah Zayner, CEO of a company distributing DIY
gene editing kits, injected himself with a gene editing plasmid that could, if it worked,
give him bigger muscles. In February 2018, following a stunt by the CEO of another
biohacker-based company, Ascendance Bio, Zayner publicly regretted his actions and
expressed his concern that somebody would get hurt, given the ways experiments
were being undertaken. The paper examined and critically engaged with
the increasingly disjointed discourses of biohackers on the topic of gene editing and
self-experimentation, especially focused on their treatment of various ethical issues of
such experiments.
Period27 Jun 2018
Event title10th Annual S.NET Meeting
Event typeConference
LocationMaastricht, Netherlands