Accepted paper:

Emerging markets of 'genomic knowledge' within livestock breeding


Annika Lonkila (University of Eastern Finland)

Paper short abstract:

Genomic knowledge production is increasingly taking place on farms and within livestock breeding networks, motivated by market-making and commodification and increased control over non-human life.

Paper long abstract:

Farms are increasingly emerging as important sites for the production of biotechnological knowledge - as well as the commodification and marketization of that knowledge. Livestock breeding has traditionally been a field where experiments with new (bio)technologies, especially in relation to reproduction, could proceed with relative ease compared to the regulatory and ethical challenges met with human subjects. Especially through the introduction of genomic technologies the contributions of livestock breeding to biomedical research continue be significant. Molecular genomics have been applied perhaps most widely within dairy cattle breeding, where practices and markets have been completely restructured. In my study I examine how the object (and commodity) of 'genomic knowledge' has emerged, accompanied by new markets - co-produced and co-modified by a wide array of actors including biomedical and livestock breeding scientists, breeding companies and regulatory agents - but as integrally technologies, calculative devices, and cattle themselves. Through extensive empirical work within Finnish breeding networks, I show that this work, motivated by economic interests, rests on establishing strict borders between categories such as nature and culture, genotype and phenotype, and human and non-human. My research contributes to deconstructing the ontological foundations of new 'bio-knowledge' based on false dichotomies. The knowledge practices from which biotechnological objects emerge are produced by complex networks of actors and situated in particular cultural, social, political, ethical, and environmental contexts. It is necessary to expose the crucial role of neglected 'knowledge actors' as well as the important moral repercussions of biotechnological knowledge production for the material conditions for non-human life within livestock production.

panel T047
The field and the farm in the production of biomedical knowledge