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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Dr Ben Campbell

Campbell, B. (2005). Biotechnology and the Public Voices of Market Reason in the British Debate on GMOs. Biotecnologia i veus públiques de raons de mercat en el debat britànic sobre organismes genèticament modificats (OGM). Revista d'etnología de Catalunya 27: 24-39.

Author(s) from Durham


The UK GM debate of 2003-2004 demonstrates how difficult genetic modification was to
contain as one that could be controlled and directed by expert advice. This article focuses
on aspects of the public debate and governance as they were reported and discussed in
British newspapers. The biotechnology industry was unsuccessful at dispelling the image
of an anachronistic and defensively reactive communications approach, wedded primarily
to narratives of economic efficiency and techno-modernist progress. The privileged
framing of GM as an agronomic science issue attempted to cleanse the debate of the
public’s heterogeneous concerns for wider frames of relevance. The ‘productionist’
rationale of food markets had undergone immense change since the time when first
generation GMOs were developed, as had relations of accountability and trust between
the regulation of food and the UK public’s willingness to accept change in the food chain
without compelling evidence of balanced scientific evaluation.