Elgar original reference
Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle
Agricultural biotechnology became a policy issue worldwide in the 1990s (Kearnes et al., 2006) because of growing public concerns about the governance of science and technology developments. These concerns include rules around commercial ownership and control; the adequacy of risk assessment and regulation processes; the shifting role of globalization forces; and incorporating citizen and stakeholder voices in shaping trajectories of new technologies. Confronted by increasing levels of controversy related to genetically modified (GM) crops in particular, governments in several countries embarked on experimentation with new methods of public engagement, many based on a model of dialogue and deliberation, as a way to rebuild public trust and manage the controversy (House of Lords Select Committee, 2000). Much practical and theoretical attention has been given to developing new engagement techniques, putting them into practice, and testing methods to assess their influence. This chapter provides an opportunity to step back and examine the broad trajectory of these participation experiments in the realm of agbiotech from the late 1980s until the present day. We adapt Ostrom's institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework that guides the Handbook as a whole (see Figure 33.1) such that our 'Action Arena' consists of public participation initiatives. We have relabelled the 'Exogenous Variables' in Ostrom's model as 'Contextual Factors' as this mirrors more closely the language used in the participation literature. We first present three areas of theory providing the rationale and impetus for the action arena of public participation.
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