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Democratizing Agri-Biotechnology? European Public Participation In Agbiotech Assessment

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Chapter Summary

European decision-making on techno-scientific issues has encountered public suspicion and legitimacy problems. Public participation in techno-scientific issues has recently gained mainstream support in Europe, in response to greater conflict around innovation and regulation of controversial technologies. This chapter focuses on agricultural biotechnology, a sector which has faced extraordinary public protest in Europe. Agbiotech has attracted diverse forms of public participation, e.g. open mass meetings, protest, boycotts, mass-media stunts and sabotage. Through these means, an emerging citizenry has demanded government accountability for innovation choices. Among the various responses, many state bodies across Europe have sponsored formal participatory exercises, beyond simply access to regulatory procedures. Agbiotech provides a rich, multi-country case study. The chapter discusses the following questions: How and why did state bodies sponsor participatory technology assessment (TA) of agbiotech? What aims arose in designing, managing and using those exercises? What was their relevance to democratizing agbiotech?.

Keywords: agricultural biotechnology; decision-making; democratizing agbiotech; European; public participation; technology assessment (TA)



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