Powering life through MitoTechnologies: Exploring the bio-objectification of mitochondria in reproduction
Mitochondria, the organelles providing the cell with energy, have recently gained greater public visibility in the UK and beyond, through the introduction of two reproductive technologies which involve their manipulation, specifically ‘mitochondrial donation’ to prevent the maternal transmission of inherited disorders, and ‘Augment’ to improve egg quality and fertility. Focusing on these two ‘MitoTechnologies’ and mobilising the conceptual framework of “bio-objectification”, we examine three key processes whereby mitochondria are made to appear to have a life of their own: their transferability, their optimisation of life processes and their capitalisation. We then explore the implications of their bio-objectification in the bioeconomy of reproduction. Drawing on publicly available material collected in two research projects, we argue that mitochondria become a biopolitical agent by contributing to the redefinition of life as something that can be boosted at the cellular level and in reproduction. Mitochondria are now presented as playing a key role for a successful and healthy conception through the development and promotion of MitoTechnologies. We also show how their “revitalising power” is invested with great promissory capital, mainly deriving from their ethical and scientific biovalue in the case of mitochondrial donation, and from the logics of assetisation, in the case of Augment.
open access article
Citation : Bühler, N., Herbrand, C. (2020) Powering life through MitoTechnologies: exploring the bio-objectification of mitochondria in reproduction. BioSocieties,
Research Institute : Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes