In this article, I discuss recent developments in the field of synthetic biology in France. Although in the United States and in the United Kingdom dedicated policies and budgets are devoted to this emerging field, in France, synthetic biology has developed on a more bottom-up and lateral basis. Important developments have taken place mostly over the last 3 years: the publication of three official reports, the creation of an observatoire for synthetic biology, the establishment of dedicated research groups, and the plan to set up several platforms for fostering collaborations between public and private actors. I therefore examine how synthetic biology is assembled, governed, debated, and positioned and argue that social scientists should not reduce their analysis to categories such as the social, the legal, or the ethical. Instead, they should offer relational accounts on how the history, governance, geopolitics, and debates on synthetic biology are woven together.
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Vol. 63 • No. 5