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Anti-genetic engineering activism and scientized politics in the case of “contaminated” Mexican maize

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  • Abby Kinchy

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    Abstract

    The struggle over genetically-engineered (GE) maize in Mexico reveals a deep conflict over the criteria used in the governance of agri-food systems. Policy debate on the topic of GE maize has become “scientized,” granting experts a high level of political authority, and narrowing the regulatory domain to matters that can be adjudicated on the basis of scientific information or “managed” by environmental experts. While scientization would seem to narrow opportunities for public participation, this study finds that Mexican activists acting “in defense of maize” engage science in multiple ways, using and producing scientific knowledge as well as treating scientific discussions as a stage for launching complex social critiques. Drawing from research in science and technology studies, this article assesses the impacts and pitfalls of three tactics used by maize activists that respond to the scientization of biotechnology politics: (1) using scientific information as a resource; (2) participating in scientific research; and (3) reframing policy problems as broadly social, rather than as solely scientific or technical. The obstacles that maize activists have faced in carrying out each of these efforts indicate that despite diverse and sophisticated engagements between social movements and the scientific field, scientization remains a significant institutional barrier to democratizing agricultural governance. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10460-009-9253-2
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

    Volume (Year): 27 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 505-517

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:27:y:2010:i:4:p:505-517

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    Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/10460

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    Related research

    Keywords: Biotechnology; Culture; Expertise; Maize; Mexico; Scientization; Social movements;

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    1. Mauricio Bellon & Julien Berthaud, 2006. "Traditional Mexican Agricultural Systems and the Potential Impacts of Transgenic Varieties on Maize Diversity," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 3-14, 03.
    2. Daniel Kleinman & Abby Kinchy, 2007. "Against the neoliberal steamroller? The Biosafety Protocol and the social regulation of agricultural biotechnologies," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 195-206, June.
    3. Daniela Soleri & David Cleveland, 2006. "Transgenic Maize and Mexican Maize Diversity: Risky Synergy?," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 27-31, 03.
    4. Aarti Gupta & Robert Falkner, 2006. "The Influence of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety: Comparing Mexico, China and South Africa," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 23-55, November.
    5. Peter Weingart, 1999. "Scientific expertise and political accountability: paradoxes of science in politics," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 151-161, June.
    6. Alejandro Nadal, 2006. "Mexico’s Corn-Producing Sector: A Commentary," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 33-36, 03.
    7. Driedger, S. Michelle & Eyles, John, 2001. "Organochlorines and breast cancer: : the uses of scientific evidence in claimsmaking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(10), pages 1589-1605, May.
    8. Elizabeth Fitting, 2006. "Importing Corn, Exporting Labor: The Neoliberal Corn Regime, GMOs, and the Erosion of Mexican Biodiversity," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 15-26, 03.
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