synthiaVideo: “What is Synthetic Biology? Engineering Life and Livelihoods” explains the corporate engineering of DNA into ‘living factories,’ value fabricated from the very basic elements of life itself.
oiseau3Video: “Animal Traffic” tracks the commodity chain of animals in the global exotic pet trade.
enterprisingVideo: “Enterprising Nature” describes attempts to translate ecosystems into concrete units of monetary value.


About the Bioeconomies Media Project

Created by a partnership of academics and activists, the Bioeconomies Media Project is an online resource to support critical discussion on the economic valuation of living entities. The project uses animated videos to explore the ways complex live beings are translated into discrete units whose value can be understood in dollars and cents.

Through these videos (and accompanying resources) the project explores an array of existing or anticipated processes – at the scale of ecosystems, bodies, and genetic materials – through which living beings are made into economic units.

Key questions

The project seeks to engage students, researchers, and other environmental actors with fundamental questions of the current bioeconomic moment:

  • What kinds of lives and life processes are for sale in contemporary bioeconomies?
  • Through what specific processes does nature get parceled into discrete entities that can be valued monetarily and perhaps sold? Who decides what can be privatized, enclosed, and sold?
  • What are the consequences of this kind of economic valuation and re-conceptualization for social justice, ecological health, and human-animal relations?
  • Should certain species, spaces, or processes be reserved from commodification, protected as autonomous beings or as public goods?
  • What alternatives exist to a bioeconomic framing of the nonhuman world?
  • Overall, this project is intended to spur critical dialogue regarding the ethical stakes of making life economic.

Intended users

We hope that the site will be particularly useful to instructors of undergraduate classes on the environment, as it offers pedagogical videos, discussion questions, a glossary of terms, and information on further resources. We also hope that activists and researchers will find the resources useful in training and advocacy work.


This project was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Victoria, and Concordia University.

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