The politics of new agricultural technologies : contesting risk, science and governance
This thesis provides a sociological exploration of the politics of new agricultural technologies in the United Kingdom. It addresses some of the key issues involved in these politics, as well as how they are discussed and fought over. Conceptually it addresses these questions by focussing on issues of risk, science and governance. In doing so, this thesis situates the politics of GM crops and foods in relation to wider normative concerns about the cultural values, relationships and institutions shaping agriculture, and British society more generally. Empirically, this thesis applies a qualitative methodology, primarily relying on data generated from a series of in-depth interviews. Through these interviews active participants in the debate were able to express a variety of opinions about the risks and benefits of agricultural biotechnology. The interview data is further supplemented by some documentary evidence, particularly as relates to several government led initiatives addressing agricultural debates in terms of contestations over risk and knowledge. Key chapters in this thesis look at the way in which the debate over GM crops and foods has been shaped by perceptions of the role and values of the life-industry, science and the Government in developing and regulating biotechnology. Finally, this thesis also addresses how society, and practices of governance in particular, are able to accommodate these political issues in managing risk and regulating technological change.