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Debates in xenotransplantation: on the consequences of contradiction

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Publication details

JournalNew Genetics and Society
DatePublished - Dec 1999
Issue number2-3
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)181-196
Original languageEnglish


This paper addresses disputes in the transplantation of tissues from transgenic animals to humans (XTP) between a number of biotech firms and several UK-based animal advocacy groups. Debates centre on the management of human and non-human identity, the indeterminacies of therapeutic efficacy and the risks of transspecies disease. Both constituencies make use of moral/cultural and scientific repertoires to advance their arguments.

Science and Technology Studies treatments of the dynamics between scientific institutions and pressure group Non-governmental organizations tend to emphasize the epistemological privileges of the former over the latter. However, the XTP case highlights a strategic flexibility enabling animal advocacy groups to deploy social and scientific arguments that are fundamentally contradictory. Such contradictions are much more difficult for scientific institutions to maintain, given the rigidities of the material and symbolic resources from which they derive their expertise in the first place.

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