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Examining Metaphors in Biopolitical Discourse
Unformatted Document Text:  Metaphors in Biopolitics, page 20 likely to buy goods labeled as genetically modified (“Poll: Skepticism of Genetically Modified Foods,” n.d.). We suggest that the combination of fear and ambivalence on the part of publics may reflect discourse of GMO foods in which the frame Frankenfood has served as an under-the-radar metaphor, thus allowing publics to equate genetically engineered foods with Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. Moreover, a playful phrase such as Frankenfood and related puns and word-play may have the added effect of diverting critical attention by activating a complex narrative schema that is wholly irrelevant to the context of a serious discussion of food production policies, which may explain, in part, Americans’ ambivalence toward GMO foods. Designer Babies. News discourse about designer babies primarily illuminates issues surrounding human fertilization but a portion of the narratives equates designer babies with high-priced clothing, strollers and other stylish accoutrements. Readers and viewers learn that parents can now outfit their toddlers with togs from Juicy Couture, Armani, and Dolce and Gabbana. The “Franken-” trope appears to be a metaphor for dangerous and monstrous creations, but “designer-” has become a widely-used metonym/metaphor for frivolous luxury products in which design is driven more by fashion than by function. Discourse about designer babies has grown in tandem with scientific advances in fertilization outside the womb (in vitro), drawing praise and criticism. Although the first so-called test tube baby was born in England in 1978, in vitro fertilization (IVF) was relatively uncommon during the 20 th Century. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking in vitro births in 1996, recording 35,000 births at that time. Over the next ten years, IVF births rose to 56,000, and the CDC estimated in 2006 that about one percent of births is from in vitro fertilization. This finding belies the cries from

Authors: Coleman, Cynthia-Lou. and Ritchie, L. David.
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Metaphors in Biopolitics, page 
20
likely to buy goods labeled as genetically modified (“Poll: Skepticism of Genetically 
Modified Foods,” n.d.). 
We suggest that the combination of fear and ambivalence on the part of publics 
may reflect discourse of GMO foods in which the frame Frankenfood has served as an 
under-the-radar metaphor, thus allowing publics to equate genetically engineered foods 
with Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. Moreover, a playful phrase such as Frankenfood 
and related puns and word-play may have the added effect of diverting critical attention 
by activating a complex narrative schema that is wholly irrelevant to the context of a 
serious discussion of food production policies, which may explain, in part, Americans’ 
ambivalence toward GMO foods. 
Designer Babies. News discourse about designer babies primarily illuminates 
issues surrounding human fertilization but a portion of the narratives equates designer 
babies with high-priced clothing, strollers and other stylish accoutrements. Readers and 
viewers learn that parents can now outfit their toddlers with togs from Juicy Couture, 
Armani, and Dolce and Gabbana. The “Franken-” trope appears to be a metaphor for 
dangerous and monstrous creations, but “designer-” has become a widely-used 
metonym/metaphor for frivolous luxury products in which design is driven more by 
fashion than by function. 
Discourse about designer babies has grown in tandem with scientific advances in 
fertilization outside the womb (in vitro), drawing praise and criticism. Although the first 
so-called test tube baby was born in England in 1978, in vitro fertilization (IVF) was 
relatively uncommon during the 20
th
 Century. The US Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention began tracking in vitro births in 1996, recording 35,000 births at that time. 
Over the next ten years, IVF births rose to 56,000, and the CDC estimated in 2006 that 
about one percent of births is from in vitro fertilization. This finding belies the cries from 


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