The biopunk movement is an intellectual and cultural movement, which encompasses a growing number of scientists, artists, and cultural critics who are organizing to create public awareness of how genomic information, produced by bioinformatics, gets used and misused. On the basis of a presumed parallel between genetic and computational code, science journalist Annalee Newitz has called for open-sourcing of genomic databases and declared that “Free our genetic data!” is the rallying cry of the biopunk.
Biological Innovation for Open Society is an example of an open-source initiative in biotechnology aiming to apply open license for biological innovation.
Self-described “transgenic artist” Eduardo Kac uses biotechnology and genetics to create works that both utilise and critique scientific techniques. In one of his works, Alba, Kac collaborated with a French laboratory to procure a green-fluorescent rabbit: a rabbit implanted with a green fluorescent protein gene from a type of jellyfish in order for the rabbit to fluoresce green under ultraviolet light. The members of the Critical Art Ensemble have written books and staged multimedia performance interventions around this issue, including The Flesh Machine (focusing on in vitro fertilisation, surveillance of the body, and liberal eugenics) and Cult of the New Eve (analyzing the pseudoreligious discourse around new reproductive technologies). Contributors to Biotech Hobbyist Magazine have written extensively on the field.
Biologist, speculative-fiction author, and self-described biopunk, Meredith L. Patterson is known for her work on yoghurt bacteria within the DIYbio community, as well as being the author of “A Biopunk Manifesto” which she delivered at the UCLA Center for Society and Genetics' symposium, “Outlaw Biology? Public Participation in the Age of Big Bio”. This manifesto is modelled after “A Cypherpunk Manifesto” by Eric Hughes, which states the goals of the cypherpunk movement. The influence of the cypherpunks (a cyberpunk derivative like the biopunk subculture) on the biopunk community does not end there; Patterson's husband and long-time collaborator Len Sassaman was a cypherpunk contemporary of Hughes. Patterson and Sassaman have worked together on a number of biohacking projects and heavily promoted the continued legality of citizen science, both on moral and practical grounds.
The biopunk movement is also a political dissident movement to the extent that the arrest and prosecution of some members for their work with harmless microbes, such as artivist Steve Kurtz, has been denounced as political repression by critics who argue the U.S. government has used post-9/11 anti-terrorism powers to intimidate artists and others who use their art to criticize society.