The GM Debate: Risk, Politics and Public Engagement, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The GM Debate

Risk, Politics and Public Engagement, 1st Edition

By Tom Horlick-Jones, John Walls, Gene Rowe, Nick Pidgeon, Wouter Poortinga, Graham Murdock, Tim O'Riordan


218 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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This book tells the story of an unprecedented experiment in public participation: the government-sponsored debate on the possible commercialization of ‘GM’ crops in the UK. Giving a unique and systematic account of the debate process, this revealing volume sets it within its political and intellectual contexts, and examines the practical implications for future public engagement initiatives.

The authors, an experienced team of researchers, produce a conceptually-informed and empirically-based evaluation of the debate, drawing upon detailed observation of both public and behind-the-scenes aspects of the process, the views of participants in debate events, a major MORI-administered survey of public views, and details of media coverage.

With innovative methodological work on the evaluation of public engagement and deliberative processes, the authors analyze the design, implementation and effectiveness of the debate process, and provide a critique of its official findings.

The book will undoubtedly be of interest to a wide readership, and will be an invaluable resource for researchers, policy-makers and students concerned with cross-disciplinary aspects of risk, decision-making, public engagement, and governance of technology.

Table of Contents

1. The Origins of the Debate 2. Our Approach to Evaluating the Debate 3. The Unfolding of the Debate and the Implementation of the Evaluation Exercise 4. Process Issues 5. The Issue of Representativeness 6. Participants’ Evaluation Criteria 7. The Management and Translation of Knowledge 8. Other Representations of the Debate 9. Conclusions

About the Authors

Tom Horlick-Jones is an independent researcher and consultant, currently based at Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University. He was team leader of the debate evaluation project.

John Walls is a Senior Research Associate in the School of Environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia.

Gene Rowe is Head of Consumer Science at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich.

Nick Pidgeon isProfessor of Applied Psychology in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University.

Wouter Poortinga is an RCUK Academic Fellow in health and risk communication in the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University.

Graham Murdock is Reader in the Sociology of Culture at Loughborough University.

Tim O’Riordan is Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia.

About the Series

Genetics and Society

The books in this series, all based on original research, explore the social, economic and ethical consequences of the new genetic sciences. The series is based in the Cesagene, one of the centres forming the ESRC’s Genomics Network (EGN), the largest UK investment in social-science research on the implications of these innovations. With a mix of research monographs, edited collections, textbooks and a major new handbook, the series is a valuable contribution to the social analysis of developing and emergent bio-technologies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General