Publication Details

Kerry Ross, Providing “Thoughtful Feedback”: Public Participation in the Regulation of Australia’s First GM Food Crop, Science and Public Policy, 34(3), 2007, 213-225.


The introduction of genetically modified (GM) food crops has generated considerable debate in many countries over the role of public participation in science and technology decision-making. In 2002 and 2003 the newly established Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) considered the first application for the commercial release of a GM food crop in Australia. Despite rhetorical statements from government in support of public participation, and the provision of various avenues for public views or knowledge to enter the decision-making process, public input proved to be minimal. This paper offers two explanations for this: one, the inherent limitations of public participation in a risk assessment setting, and two, the inordinate level of discretion extended to the OGTR by the legislative framework that guides it.