The Debate on the Risk of Genetically Modified Food: The Politics of Science
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Scientific research on the use of genetic engineering in the production of new food is facing a difficult situation. Further development in this field is being impacted more and more by the debate on the risk of GM food, where consumers’ tools and the ability to influence decision-making are being enhanced. In Norway regulatory mechanisms have been introduced to address a wide range of GM-food risks, but at the same time have created certain obstacles for scientists and industry. Not yet using their most potent tool – the market - Norwegian consumers have succeeded in influencing the attitudes of industry and, to some extent, scientists with respect to GM food. Value commitment has been successfully mobilized by consumers and other stakeholders against the use of genetic engineering to solve some of society’s problems. Scientists do not appear to possess adequate social resources to support their point of view. Their strategy in the generation of these resources is to participate in the control function together with the ruleenforcing agencies, and to propose projects on GM- food risks. The combination of democratic public participation and strong regulatory provisions may, however, have hidden drawbacks.