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The biopolitics of technological innovation: the case of GM agriculture in Europe

Bronislaw Szerszynski
Institute of Environmental and Public Policy, Lancaster University
Email: bron@lancaster.ac.uk|

Date: 24 May 2005
Time
: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Venue
: CARR Seminar Room, H615

Abstract

In this paper I will explore the idea that in the twenty-first century a key site of 'biopolitics' - of a politics oriented to the shaping and optimising of vital forces within society - might be technology itself. In the context of global economic competition, the principle source of economic value for advanced capitalist societies is increasingly lying neither in the physical labouring power of the human worker, nor in the use or exchange value of artefacts, but in the very temporal dynamism of technology - its vital capacity continuously to develop and evolve. The enhancing and shaping of technology's momentum thus becomes a key biopolitical project in itself, and the state has found a new role in relation to technology - not the stabilising of steady-state technology in the context of state-organised welfare capitalism, but the nurturing of spaces and networks which foster technology's liveliness, in the context of the 'far-from equilibrium' economics of global neo-liberalism. Using the case of GM agriculture in Europe, I explore the pressures that this unruly biopolitics of technology is placing on the classical biopolitical 'compact' in which governments promise to protect the health and security of populations.

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