Framing and legitimating EU legal regulation of human gene-editing technologies: key facets and functions of an imaginary


  • Mahalatchimy Aurélie
  • Lau Pin Lean
  • Li Phoebe
  • Flear Mark L


  • Imaginaries
  • Law
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • European Union
  • Framing
  • Gene editing

document type



Gene-editing technologies, i.e. those able to make changes in the DNA of an organism, are the object of global competition and a regulatory race between countries and regions. There is an attempt to craft legal frameworks protective enough for users, but flexible enough for developers of gene-editing technologies. This article examines the imaginary built into the framing of EU-level legal regulation of human gene-editing technologies and identifies its three key related facets: the tension around naturalness; safeguarding morality and ethics; and the pursuit of medical objectives for the protection of human health. Concerns around the use of gene-editing technologies in relation to eugenics and human enhancement have produced a multi-faceted imaginary. We argue that this imaginary not only places a limit on EU-level regulation, despite a strong EU competence in respect of the internal market, but also seeks to ensure its legitimation.

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