Article ID: CBB001022750

From Applied Microbiology to Biotechnology: Science, Medicine and Industrial Renewal (2010)


In the late 1970s politicians and civil servants were acutely aware of the chronic decline of the manufacturing sector as a source of employment in Britain. At a time of fear of mass unemployment, sources of new work were urgently sought. Biotechnology had been promoted by visionaries since the early twentieth century. With oil prices soaring, its potential to produce substitutes for petroleum derivatives seemed newly attractive. At the beginning of 1976, John Bu'Lock at Manchester brought the attention of the new President of the Royal Society, Lord Todd, to the developments in enzyme and fermentation technologies. Both the Society and government began to take biotechnology seriously. In 1979 the Society organized a groundbreaking meeting, `New horizons in industrial microbiology'. In parallel, John Ashworth, the chief scientist of the government think-tank the Central Policy Review Staff, prompted by American developments in genetic engineering, its commercial exploitation and regional development, led thinking among government officials. The Spinks enquiry into biotechnology was consequently formed in 1979 as a collaborative enterprise of the Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development, the Advisory Board for the Research Councils and the Royal Society. The recommendations for far-reaching collaboration between research councils, government and industry were not fully implemented. However, even the limited implementation led to new models of science that would be significant in the emergence of a reconstruction of science.

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Authors & Contributors
Hughes, Sally Smith
Yi, Doogab
Jasanoff, Sheila
Dan-Cohen, Talia
Rabinow, Paul
Jong, Simcha
Social Studies of Science
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Industrial and Corporate Change
Journal of the History of Biology
History and Technology
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Princeton University Press
University of Chicago Press
University of Pennsylvania Press
Harvard University Press
University of Minnesota
University of Maryland, College Park
Biotechnology industry
Science and industry
Science and politics
Molecular biology
Genetic engineering
Berg, Paul
Merton, Robert K.
Margulis, Lynn
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
United States
Great Britain
California (U.S.)
United States. Dept. of Agriculture
Stanford University
Royal Society of London
Chinese Academy of Sciences

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