Collecting a History of Genetic Engineering and Society

Genetic engineering is at an important crossroads. The first generation of researchers and regulators are in many cases still actively working. But the clock is ticking to capture the memories and papers of these pioneering practitioners while they are still willing and able to share. At the same time, a second and third generation of scientists, regulators, marketers, students, and advocates for and against the technology are now active and interested in that history. In the absence of archives, observers will create their own stories unhindered by fact. Gathering original words and memories is a matter of urgency. The GES Center at NC State intends to bring together the first generation of genetic engineering practitioners and to archive its story for posterity. The program founders know many of the founding generation. The faculty have institutional support from NC State University and the GES Faculty and staff in the GES Center are committed to this project. Over the coming years, we will bring major figures in the scientific, regulatory and advocacy communities shaping genetic engineering to NC State for public talks. In addition to key scientists, we intend to invite a wide diversity of people in the genetic engineering community, including basic scientists, biotech developers, regulators, policy makers, NGO workers, social scientists, and industry people, among others.

Our Goals

We have three goals. The first is to promote the work of the GES center by creating web-ready short video clips based on interviews with invited guest speakers. The second goal is to encourage public access to the history of genetic engineering’s ideas, practice and impact by posting longer-form video interviews on a website. The third is to create and preserve an archive of high-quality oral histories with key figures in the field, to be archived in North Carolina State University’s Special Collections.

Our Partners

The NC State Libraries Special Collections is a key partner. They will archive physical materials and have experience recording, editing and storing audio video interviews. They have a proven track record of gathering and storing historical materials for public access, including two models for our project: The Computer Simulation collection (video archive) the Lewis Clarke collection (oral history and documents archive). Longer term, we will seek support from the National Science Foundation, which has supported histories of science in the past. Benefactors with an interest in genetic engineering might support a well-designed initiative, and companies in or Research Triangle Park might be a potential partner.

Fall 2015 History Project Series Speakers

History poster

Erich Sachs: Monsanto (9/1/15) Download PDF

Greg Jaffe: Center for Science in the Public Interest. (10/5/15) Download PDF

Paul Thompson: Michigan State University (10/14/15) Download PDF

Pam Marrone: Marrone Bio Innovations (10/27/15) Download PDF

John Ryals: Metabolon (11/17/15) Download PDF


Paul ThompsonSocial Amplifications of GMO Risks10/14/15Video
Greg JaffeBusting the Myths about Genetically Engineered Foods10/5/15Video
Dr. Pamela Ronald & Raoul AdamchakTomorrow’s TableVideo
Dr.Margaret MellonI Never Called it Frankenfood9/5/14Video
Dr.Ignacio Chapela2/25/15Video
Dr. Anthony SheltonDoes Genetic Engineering Belong in a Land Grant University PortfolioVideo

Public Tools

Project Personnel

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