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Science and democracy on stage at the Science and Technology Select Committee

Dimond, Rebecca ORCID: and Stephens, Neil 2023. Science and democracy on stage at the Science and Technology Select Committee. BioSocieties 10.1057/s41292-022-00289-1

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In this article, we explore the legalisation of mitochondrial donation in the UK as the latest iteration of an established sociotechnical imaginary of permissive yet highly scrutinised human embryo research in the country. The focus of our analysis is the work of the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee as it contributed to the debates and ultimately played a role in enabling the UK to become the first country in the world to legalise clinical use. Mitochondrial donation is a reproductive technology which could allow women with mitochondrial disease to have healthy, genetically related children. From 2011, an extensive process of inquiry was launched in the UK to assess safety, ethics and public attitudes. We analyse video and transcripts of the meeting, and interviews with panellists to explore three themes: contesting scientific interpretation, the labour of alignment and resolution. We demonstrate how micro-interactions during the meeting, and the broader structure of the meeting itself, aligned with the UK sociotechnical imaginary of a permissive but scrutinising approach to human embryo regulation. We conclude that the event was one element of a larger process of review that together worked to render mitochondrial donation as knowable, ethical, desirable and sanctionable.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISSN: 1745-8552
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 November 2022
Date of Acceptance: 26 October 2022
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 18:33

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