Politics and Governance of Societal Uses of Genomic Science: Comparing Three Nations

Jennifer Hochschild, 2003–2004 Radcliffe Institute Fellow

The seminar will focus on societal uses of three technologies in genomic science: gene editing, polygenic scoring, and DNA testing for immigration and population management. Each offers great promise, substantial risks, and opportunity for political and ideological conflict. The amount and type of appropriate governance for each technology is also contentious, as well as uncertain and underdeveloped. Countries vary in their levels of permissive or restrictive rules, public participation in decision-making, and axes of dispute. Following the seminar, I will develop a proposal for support to study these issues. Seminar participants will engage in three tasks. The first is to refine a draft public opinion survey about the three new technologies. The survey will include an experiment to permit analysis of the impact of information on attitudes and policy preferences. The second task is to refine a draft institutional analysis of the structure within which these technologies are developed and opinions formed. It will include a study of relevant laws and judicial decisions, interviews with key public and private actors, and a media analysis to determine public and advocacy group engagement with these controversial innovations. The research project will examine the politics and governance of genomics’ uses in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany. That points to the third task of seminar participants: to analyze the distinctive features of each country’s genomics regime and to suggest experts, organizations, and public officials with whom to be in touch.