INTRODUCTION AIHWA ONG
An Analytics of Biotechnology
and Ethics at Multiple Scales
The dispersal of genetic science across the world raises questions about
the interactions of biotechnologies and bioethics in diverse global loca-
tions. Yet the tendency has been to think in terms of general rules for
governing the proliferation of scientific and commercial uses of biolog-
ical resources. For instance, at the 2008 meeting of the World Eco-
nomic Forum in Davos, a panel proposing ‘‘Rules for the Genomic Age’’
issued this statement:
Genetic data about specific populations may soon be in the hands of
a wide variety of interested players from pharmaceutical firms to
insurance companies for scientifically and commercially valid rea-
sons. How should access to, and the application of, this information
be managed to both promote collaborative innovation and address
societal concerns?’’∞
It is perhaps not surprising that meetings dominated by pharmaceuti-
cal interests do not list the nation-state as an interested player, nor is
there any mention of resurgent nationalism and ethical debates in non-
Western contexts as influences in the uses and effects of the biosci-
ences. Even academic research has struggled to keep abreast of recent
events that highlight the complex intersections of the life sciences and
ethical dilemmas in Asia:
1. At the turn of the new century Singapore launched Biopolis, a
biomedical research hub that seeks to combine researchers from
the public and private sectors. The government boasted about the
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