HISTSCI 136 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Mammary Tumor, Brca1, Gene Mapping

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26 Jun 2018
History of Biotechnology Midterm Exam Study Guide Fall 2016
1. Support or contest the claim that contemporary biotechnology is continuous with a long history of
human control and manipulation of biology beginning with agriculture and animal domestication. Use
specific examples from lectures, readings, or outside materials to support your claim.
Note on this one -- might be easier to claim that it’s continuous but I wonder if you could argue that the
magnitude/speed at which we can manipulate life has increased exponentially
. The American Chemical Society defines biotechnology as the application of biological organisms,
systems, or processes by various industries to learning about the science of life and the improvement of
the value of materials and organisms such as pharmaceuticals, crops, and livestock. Now: through things
like genetic engineering, recombinant DNA
1. Selective breeding in plants in animals - goes back at least 11 thousand years
1. Manipulating plants
1.1. Seeding them by hand instead of waiting for them to grow in the right
1.2. Grafting them together
1.3. Spraying them with chemicals
1.4. Permanently modifying them—modifying their genes—by selecting for
desirable traits
1.5. Bombarding them with X-rays to induce mutagenesis, hoping new traits
1.6. Hybridizing two inbred strains of crops to significantly increase their
2. Manipulating animals
3. How does this relate to US patent law?
1.1. Plant Protection Act (1930s)
1.1.1. Reason to protect plant varieties: dust bowl drought with farmers
migrating to CA to seek out new lives, Congress trying to protect farmers
1.2. Plant Variety Protection Act (1970s)
1.2.1. The Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970 is an intellectual
property statute in the United States. The PVPA gives breeders up to 25
years of exclusive control over new, distinct, uniform, and stable sexually
reproduced or tuber propagated plant varieties. A major expression of plant
breeders' rights in the United States, the PVPA grants protection similar to
that available through patents, but these legal schemes differ in critical
respects. The PVPA should not be confused with plant patents, which are
limited to asexually reproduced plants (not including tuber propagated
1.3. These both act like patents
Specific example from reading: History of Biotechnology by Robert Bud
“Traditionally the crafts of fermentation evolved slowly, and although many have had a stake in
their practice, few have had an interest in change” but there are a few exceptions to this...for
example “At the very end of the seventeenth century, the era of the scientific revolution, new
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skills of thermometry and hydrometry, as well as chemical theories of fermentation, were
introduced into the old craft.”
Prussian court physician Georg Ernst Stahl (1659-1734) pioneered the concept of
a specific fermentation technology that he called “zymotechnology”
He developed the text, Zymotechnia Fundamentalis, which can be seen as the
founding document of biotechnology
Stahl’s word zymotechnology lived on in texts and institutions.
A mid-nineteenth-century professor from Prague, Carl Balling, looked into the
history of biotechnology and Stahl “offered him an ancestry, identity and historic
The making of cheese and yogurt, wine and vinegar, tea and tobacco, even the
removal of hair from hides in the making of leather all centered around fermentation
Zymotechnics came just before biotechnics
Science and technology were married under the pressure of World War I
But the word “biotechnology” was actually coined in another wartime
oHungarian agricultural engineer/economist, Karl Ereky, planned to build
the largest pig processing factory
oHe fattened 50,000 swines
oPeasants were completely superseded by the industrialization of the
biological process
oHe wrote a book called Biotechnologie
2. Choose two examples of agricultural biotechnologies drawn from material discussed in lectures or
readings, which can range from the nineteenth century to present day. Briefly describe the two
agricultural biotechnologies you are comparing, as well as the historical circumstances in which they
were introduced. Then evaluate how tropes of nationalism, progress, modernity, or utopia have been used
to frame the possible social and economic impacts of these agricultural biotechnologies.
1. GMOS - Golden rice, green revolution… controlled by gov’t and nongov’t partnerships to help
states in global south
1. “Agri-biotechnology offers promising means to a more sustainable agriculture… This is a
critical need in developing countries, where over 90% of the world’s 11 billion people
will be living in 2050”
2. “Over the past 40 years, the world’s population has doubled to 6 billion, and according to
United Nations projections, it could climb as high as 10.7 billion in 2050 with most of the
growth occurring in the poorest and least developed regions of the world… Already, UN
statistics show that 800 million people are chronically malnourished…. Biotechnology
could increase crop production in the developing world by 25 percent”
2. Biotechnology’s connection to global development and nationalism
1. Modernity is enacted through technological control of nature
2. How biotechnology serves empire
1.1. Second Green Revolution
1.1.1. The Second Green Revolution is a change in agricultural
production widely thought necessary to feed and sustain the growing
population on Earth [1][2] These calls have precipitated in part, as a response to
rising food commodity prices, and fears of peak oil among other factors.[2]
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1.1.2. It is named after the Green Revolution, a movement to increase crop
selection and agrichemical usage to increase yield in the 1930s through to
the 1960s
1.1.3. Genetic engineering will take lead
1.2. Background of the Green Revolution
1.2.1. The Nitrogen Cycle If anything exemplifies humanity’s growing impact on
the planet’s life-support systems, it is the way we are
overwhelming the nitrogen cycle. There are solutions. But for
now we are hooked. As Smil put it: “In just one lifetime,
humanity has developed a profound chemical dependence.”
1.1.2. Anxiety over the “Population Explosion”
1.2. The Green Revolution in Mexico
1.2.1. Rockefeller Scientists Working with Mexican Farmers
1.2.2. Hybrid Corn Introduced to Mexico
1.2.3. Modern Agriculture Techniques in Mexico
1.2.4. Synthetic Fertilizers in Mexico
1.2.5. International Agricultural Research Centers (?)
1.3. The Green Revolution in India
1.3.1. Genetic Hybrid Seed Bank in India
1.3.2. Modern Agriculture Techniques in India
1.3.3. Genetic Hybrid Seed Bank in India
1.3.4. Rockefeller Scientists Train Students in Uttar Pradesh
1.3.5. ‘semidwarf wheat is to traditional grains as airplanes are to
bullock-carts’ (1964)
2. India - cotton, insect resist, suicide cases
1. Warangal case
1.1. Late 1990s?early 2000: rash of farmer suicides connected to
Monsanto agriculture
1.2. Killed themselves by drinking pesticides to protest something
1.3. Suicides results of debt (caused by globalization, new agri
practices, need to buy chemicals etc) OR by failure to adopt technology
soon enough?
2. Having to buy seeds from global north to compete in global market
The devil is doing this one 3. Research the legal case AMP v. Myriad Genetics (2013), in which breast
cancer patients, survivors, and patient advocacy groups, among others, charged that Myriad Genetics’
patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes violate U.S. constitutional and patent law. Based on the history
of U.S. biological patent law (Diamond v. Chakrabarty, Moore v. the Board of Regents of the University
of California, etc.) imagine that you are a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Draft an opinion explaining why or
why not the BRCA patents should be overturned. You are welcome to consult the 2013 decision, but need
not reference it in your response.
Hello everyone. It’s me, your US Supreme Court justice, reporting the long awaited decision regarding
AMP versus Myriad Genetics. I’d just like to say I’ve come to a pretty split decision. I believe that
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