Year

2004

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Department

School of Social Sciences, Media and Communication

Abstract

The introduction of genetically engineered crops has generated widespread public debate. In recognition of this, there are increasing calls for the public to participate in decisionmaking regarding their introduction. In Australia, the recently established Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) is responsible for the regulation of genetically engineered crops. In assessing the risks posed by the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment the OGTR is obliged to incorporate public participation in its decision-making process. In 2003 the OGTR granted a licence to Bayer CropScience for the commercial release of Australia's first genetically engineered food crop, InVigor® canola. Despite assurances of public accountability and opportunities for community involvement key public stakeholders were critical of the OGTR process. This thesis evaluates the decision-making process of the OGTR by addressing the central question of whether the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator fostered genuine public participation in the InVigor® canola decision. This analysis is informed by a number of themes drawn from the STS literature that are specific to the issues raised in this case study. In the end, it is argued that rather than promote public participation the OGTR process marginalised such participation in a number of ways, despite the capacity to do otherwise.

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