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Title: Crispr Pigs, Pigoons and the Future of Organ Transplantation: An Ethical Investigation of the Creation of Crispr-Engineered Humanised Organs in Pigs
Authors: Camporesi, Silvia
Keywords: Xenotransplantationorgan transplantationorgan transplantsbiofuturesspeculative bioethicsscience fictionCRISPRgenome editingGeorge ChurchMargaret Atwood
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Silvia Camporesi, "Crispr Pigs, Pigoons and the Future of Organ Transplantation: An Ethical Investigation of the Creation of Crispr-Engineered Humanised Organs in Pigs" in: "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2018) XX/3", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2018, pp. 35-52
Journal: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
Bioethics operates on two dimensions: one is the future, i.e. the temporal subject of
bioethicists’ speculations, and one is the present, the point of influence of bioethics. In
order for bioethics to operate on two dimensions, bioethicists have to resort to biofutures,
or imaginaries of possible futures populated by extrapolations of uses of emerging
biotechnologies. This paper discusses the possible biofuture in which we are able to grow
humanised organs in pigs for the purposes of human transplantation, which has brought
xenotransplantation closer to the present thanks to experiments conducted by George
Church at MIT, which use CRISPR genome editing technologies to edit out a number of
retroviruses that are endogenous in pigs and can pose a risk of human infection in
xenotransplantation. This paper juxtaposes the biofuture imagined by Church, where
organ transplants become routine and are customized on the basis of the recipient, with the
biofuture imagined by Canadian author Margaret Atwood in her 2003 novel Oryx and
Crake, who in a sense predicted the advent of CRISPR pigs with her ‘pigoons’, engineered
pigs with multiple organs also for the purpose of human transplantation. Although feeding
on the same material or elementary building blocks, Church and Atwood end up with
opposing outlooks on the moral implications of using animals as biofactories. While
bioethicists often rely on biofutures imagined by scientists, with the possible risk of buying
into epistemic scientism and reinforcing socio-technical expectations, in this paper I argue
that science fiction, or speculation fiction, has an important role to play in providing
narrative fodder for alternative imagined biofutures.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1825-5167
DOI: 10.13137/1825-5167/22584
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internazionale
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2018) XX/3

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