Seeking knowledge has always been a noble goal of human society. The pursuit of science used to be as lofty, but people aren't so great at remaining that clean.
When the discoveries of Watson, Crick, and Franklin kicked off the race of genetic understanding, no one knew what they were getting into. At first, the new technologies were used for good. Understanding of diseases led to cures. But the ability to manipulate the world around them was too tempting to both scientists and the corporations who increasingly controlled them.
As government jurisdiction became synonymous with corporate control, private security firms were called in to keep company secrets. Over time, one security firm consumed the others and took its place at the top of the societal food chain.
The notion of seeking knowledge was not lost, but altered to fit within the equally noble concept of improving humanity. At least it sounded noble. Curing diseases was no longer the primary goal. Pleasure, entertainment, and youth became the objectives.
In what they described as a 'security measure', Corps SeCorp began to isolate the research centers within their own mini-cities.
The resources of the planet were being exhausted. The dire future environmentalists had warned of had arrived. Much of the land became barren. Thousands of species of animals and plants went extinct. Within the Compounds, it didn't matter. They could make new life forms for whatever they needed. Outside the compounds, life wasn't so great...