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Mediated speculations in the genomics futures markets

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This article examines the interactions between the media and genomics, with particular reference to the case of deCODE Genetics in Iceland. It focuses on the role of "forward-looking statements" and other forms of speculation as they operate in the science of genomics, in the social relations that happen around genomics, and in the commercial genomics economy. The article discusses how these fundamentally anticipatory speech acts uttered or written by genomic corporate executives, journalists, or social scientists are simultaneously volatile, exceeding any formal practices of accounting or analysis, and demanding to be accounted for, analysed, or valued. The article discusses four speculative events or cases in the genomics economy: the March 2000 bursting out of the genomics bubble, prompted in part by remarks by President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair to the media concerning gene patenting; the new disclosure requirements of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding "forward-looking statements" as they appear in genomics press releases; deCODE Genetics' registration statement with the SEC that discloses a settlement of a dispute over the ownership of a fragment of DNA; and the entanglement between the author's ethnographic fieldwork and the breaking news story of reported payoffs from deCODE to the Icelandic political parties.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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