University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The trajectory of this book marks the developing edge of a field. I first issued a call for participants in a panel on the relationships between communication and biotechnology in 1989, for an annual conference of what was then called the International Association of Mass Communication Research (IAMCR, now the International Association for Media and Communication Research). There were absolutely no responses to that call, leaving me feeling as if I were not on the cutting edge, but rather over the edge of a cliff even the face of which seemed to be invisible to others. It took about a decade before papers in this area began to appear within the field of communication, first and most often dealing with public opinion regarding biotechnology. Having jumped off the cliff in 1989, I continued to work on this topic throughout the 1990s and was able to finally present it publicly first in 1999 at both IAMCR and International Communication Association (ICA) conferences. Now, of course, there is a deluge of work, and it is hoped that the quite diverse chapters of this book—including analysis of public opinion, but also going far beyond that topic—mark points on a compass for a research agenda of multi- and interdisciplinary use.
The undergraduate library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was built underground so as not to disturb what local lore describes as the first agricultural test plot in the United States. It was the agronomists of that university who first alerted me to the seed as biological information. Jennings Bryant must be thanked for his openness to the subject matter in his editorial role at Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, and Linda Bathgate of