Article ID: CBB803418234

Between mice and sheep: Biotechnology, agricultural science and animal models in late-twentieth century Edinburgh (2019)


In this paper, we investigate the ways in which a group of scientists in Edinburgh worked across mice and sheep during the last quarter of the twentieth century. With this local episode, we show the utility of an interspecies perspective to investigate recent historical transformations in the life sciences. We argue that the emergence of animal biotechnology was the result of interactions between neoliberal policymakers, science administrators, molecular biologists, agricultural breeders, and the laboratory and farm organisms with which they worked. During the early 1980s, all these actors believed that the exportation of genetic engineering techniques from mice to farm animals would lead to more effective breeding programmes in the agricultural sciences. However, the circulation of people, money, expertise and infrastructures that the experiments required, as well as the practical constraints of working with mice and sheep, resisted a simple scaling-up from one organism to the other. This displaced the goals of the Edinburgh scientists from the production of transgenic sheep to stem cell research and human regenerative medicine. We account for this unexpected shift by looking at the interplay between science policy and its implementation via collective action and bench work across different organisms. The emergence of animal biotechnology in Edinburgh also provides historiographical insights on the birth of Dolly the sheep and, more generally, on the interactions between the molecular and the reproductive sciences at the fall of the twentieth century.

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Authors & Contributors
Martynoga, Ben
Franklin, Sarah
Yi, Doogab
Wörmann, Stefan
Weingart, Peter
Svendsen, Mette N.
Social Studies of Science
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Public Understanding of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Duke University Press
Troubador Publishing
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Rowman & Littlefield
Houghton Mifflin
Cornell University Press
Cloning of organisms
Stem cells
Genetic engineering
Biology and ethics; bioethics
Science and politics
Berg, Paul
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
Edinburgh (Scotland)
Great Britain
South Korea
Human Genome Project
Stanford University

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