The Politics of GM Food: A Comparative Study of the UK, USA, and EU

The Politics of GM Food: A Comparative Study of the UK, USA, and EU

The Politics of GM Food: A Comparative Study of the UK, USA, and EU

The Politics of GM Food: A Comparative Study of the UK, USA, and EU

Synopsis

'Why have GM Foods become so controversial? Comparing GM food politics in the US, Britain, and the European Union, Toke draws on insights from discourse analysis to help explain this basic political struggle of our time. By stressing the interplay between the material and discursive dimensions involved in the shaping of the conflict, the work offers a detailed account that enriches our political understanding of these 'Frankenfoods' on a variety of fronts, in particular the interplay between scientific expertise and citizens politics. Those interested in the 'risk society', both students and specialists, will find much to learn from this perceptive analysis.' Professor Frank Fischer , Rutgers University, USA The Politics of GM Food compares and explains how differing political outcomes have occurred regarding GM food and crops in the UK, USA and the EU, thus throwing light on the relationship between science and politics.

Excerpt

Why have the USA and the EU come to blows over the issue of GM food and crops? How is it that two blocs with such apparently similar levels of technological/economic development and understandings of science produced different outcomes with regard to the application of agricultural biotechnology? In the USA the bulk of canola (oil seed rape) and soya, and much corn (maize) is produced from genetically modified (GM) crops. US consumers routinely purchase food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) without much thought or discussion of this fact. Although some GM food crops and food products have been given legal authorisation by the EU, practically no GM food crops are grown in the EU. Moreover practically no supermarket shelf anywhere in the EU can be found containing a product containing more than accidental trace quantities of detectable genetically engineered DNA. These divergent patterns have led to a trade dispute. In May 2003 the USA announced that it was filing a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) concerning the alleged slowness of the EU in authorising the commercialisation of GM food and crop products.

This book sets out to explain these contrasts. In doing so, however, I want to explore the theory of how science and politics interact (and do so with different effects). I also want to explore the politics of interest group pressure that has been associated with the divergent political outcomes. A 'discourse-analytical' approach is used to achieve these objectives. A social constructionist, discourse approach to this comparative study of GM food politics may be especially relevant to analysis where it is appropriate to assume that none of the contending parties have an automatic right to know and speak the truth. Discourse analysis assumes that truth can only be found in relation to a particular vocabulary and a particular set of values. This approach does not mean that there is no right or wrong, it merely offers an approach which enables us to understand how different notions of truth come to be held with similar vigour by different groups of people.

This discourse-analytical approach is applied in different ways in order to examine regulatory discourses, systems of scientific assessment and

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