January 7, 2016, by Brigitte Nerlich
On books, circuits and life
I have recently been trying to understand CRISPR, gene editing and genome editing. While reading about these new developments in genomics, I noticed that in the avalanche of news reports reference is only rarely made to synthetic biology (on 5 January there were 188 articles on CRISPR in Major World Newspapers on the LexisNexis news database; of these only 12 mention synthetic biology). I am not quite sure why this is, but when musing about this, I began to wonder whether the language used in the media to talk about CRISPR and gene editing doesn’t quite mash with the language used to talk about synthetic biology. I then began to look more closely into how synthetic biology and gene editing are being framed. I found some interesting similarities, but also some differences. I’ll report on these before reflecting on some problems with the master metaphors that are circulating in science and society and through which we tend to see synthetic biology and gene editing.