Anti-genetic engineering activism and scientized politics in the case of “contaminated” Mexican maize
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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Volume (Year): 27 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
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