Asia’s Biotech Bloom
The expansion of biotechnology industries across Asia in the twenty-
first century has been described by media and scientific journals as a
biotech bloom.∞ The rise of this region goes beyond being a geno-
mic assembly line for sequencing, lab research, or drug trials. Rather,
as contributors to this volume have documented, the production of
knowledge in Asia reflects the formation of an increasingly global tech-
noscientific culture in which researchers, private firms, and state inves-
tors are forging a distinctive biotech industry.≤ Scientists trained in the
United States and Europe have been drawn to national and private
industry labs in the region for many reasons, which include profes-
sional enhancement based on financial incentives such as bonuses,
capital earmarked for lab infrastructure and personnel, and generous
cost-of-living expenses. More than a site of return for Asian citizens
trained abroad, the centers for biotechnology and genomic research are
emerging as lively arenas of collaboration and diversity where scien-
tists from a range of backgrounds can visit and participate. Research
and development in the biosciences are celebrated and deemed sig-
nificant to national progress and sense of modernity. In the after-
math of the Asian financial crises of the 1990s, such assemblages offer
timely and significant investment in the economic and social landscape
through the life sciences.
The rush of biotech firms to this region is also shaped by incentives
provided by nation-states, which include vast research centers, indige-
nous populations to develop genomic products, and projections of a
vast market. Asia is deemed the site where new products can be tested
through clinical trials in biopharmaceuticals, as Sunder Rajan illus-
trates in his chapter on the changing experimental landscape in India.≥
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