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‘Cultures of GM’: discourses of risk and labelling of GMOs in the UK and EU

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Abstract:

The debate over genetically modified foods has become one of the defining environmental and social issues of the past decade. As the public naturalize biotechnology within existing cultural systems, this produces what I term ‘cultures of GM’. This paper examines how these ‘cultures’ are legitimized and sustained through an appraisal of divergent North American and European conceptions of risk and their translation into food labelling policies. It is argued that the dialectical relationship between risk perception and its cultural context offers an instructive vantage point for critical reflection by geographers.

Keywords: Europe; United States; agricultural biotechnology; labelling; reflexivity; risk

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2005.00632.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University College London, London WC1H 0AP, Email: c.herrick@ucl.ac.uk

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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