The genetically modified organism shall not be refused? Talking back to the technosciences

Van Dyck, Barbara, Kenis, Anneleen and Stirling, Andy (2021) The genetically modified organism shall not be refused? Talking back to the technosciences. Environment and Planning E. pp. 1-22. ISSN 2514-8486

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Abstract

Starting from Marcel Mauss’ observation that “one has no right to refuse a gift”, this paper explores the politics of refusal in the context of field trials with genetically modified organisms in Flanders (Belgium). Based on a decade of activist research, and focusing on the genetically modified organism field trials of the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology, we show that the business model of this strategic research center – with its triple mission of carrying biotechnology research, technology transfer, and the promotion of biotechnology through communication and lobby activities – fosters a climate in which innovations in the technosciences have to “be accepted”. The future is laid out without including the possibility of refusal. Consternation is great when this is exactly what happens. Irrational fears and lack of understanding or lack of familiarity are invoked to explain refusal. Language of precision, innovation, safety, and control are deployed to re-assure the public. Refusal is not considered a legitimate option. Yet, if farmers and grassroots initiatives would accept the gift of genetically modified organisms, it would mean the acceptance of their dispossession and the impossibility of diverse food sovereignties. Starting from theoretical work on “the gift” and “the politics of refusal”, we argue that recognizing innovation as the intrinsically plural and divergent process it is, entails including options to refuse particular pathways as a first step to open up others. As we will argue, saying no to genetically modified organisms is part of saying yes to peasant autonomy, agrobiodiversity, and peoples’ food sovereignties.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2021 08:11
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2021 08:15
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/102082

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