Anomaly handling and the politics of gene drives

S. W. Evans and M. J. Palmer,  Journal of Responsible Innovation,  5:S223-S242. 2018.

Decisions about the development and use of gene drives are framing broader debates about the need for fundamental changes to biotechnology regulatory systems. We summarize this debate and describe how gene drives are being constructed as potential anomalies within the regulatory landscape. Drawing on literature from Science and Technology Studies and other fields, we outline a broad set of anomaly-handling strategies and provide examples from current gene drive debates. While often couched in technical terms, decisions about how to address anomalies are also decisions about whether to strengthen or weaken different forms of governance. By exploring the different ways that anomalies are constructed and handled, we highlight the active role that anomalies play within a changing governance system and invite a more nuanced examination of the multifarious goals these strategies serve.