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Re-negotiating Science in Environmentalists' Submissions to New Zealand's Royal Commission on Genetic Modification

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Abstract:

The debate about genetic modification (GM) can be seen as characteristic of our time. Environmental groups, in challenging GM, are also challenging modernist faith in progress, and science and technology. In this paper we use the case of New Zealand's Royal Commission on Genetic Modification to explore the application of science discourses as used by environmental groups. We do this by situating the debate in the framework of modernity, discussing the use of science by environmental groups, and deconstructing the science discourses evident within environmental groups' submissions to the Commission. We find science being called into question by the very movement that has relied on it to fight environmental issues for many years. The environmental groups are challenging the traditional boundaries of science, for although they use science they also present it as a culturally embedded activity with no greater epistemological authority than other knowledge systems. Their discourses, like that of the other main actors in the GM debate, are thus part of the constant re-negotiation of the cultural construct of 'science'.

Keywords: Royal Commission; environmental groups; genetic modification; modernity; science

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3197/096327103129341432

Publication date: 2003-11-01

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2015) of 1.311.
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