Providing "thoughtful feedback": public participation in the regulation of Australia's first genetically modified food crop

Author: Ross, Kerry

Source: Science and Public Policy, 1 April 2007, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 213-225(13)


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The introduction of genetically modified (GM) food crops has generated considerable debate over the role of public participation in science and technology decision-making. In 2002 and 2003 the newly established Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) considered the first application for the commercial release of a GM food crop in Australia. Despite rhetorical statements from government in support of public participation, and the provision of various avenues for public views or knowledge to enter the decision-making process, public input proved to be minimal. This paper offers two explanations for this: one, the inherent limitations of public participation in a risk assessment setting, and two, the inordinate level of discretion extended to the OGTR by the legislative framework that guides it.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2007

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