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Societal deliberation on genetically modified maize in southern Africa: the debateness and publicness of the Zambian national consultation on genetically modified maize food aid in 2002

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Mwale, Pascal Newbourne

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Abstract In the 2001/2002 farming season, southern Africa faced acute hunger. According to UN WFP/FAO statistics, about 14 million people were on the verge of death by starvation in the region. In Zambia alone, the UN WFP/FAO estimated that about 3 million people were threatened with serious food shortages, and they would need about 630 000 metric tons of food. The UN WFP offered genetically modified (GM) maize grain, procured from the US, to various countries in the region, including Zambia. A significant debate emerged around the question of US-produced GM maize grain in the region. This regional debate around the question of GM maize was most probably aroused by the issues raised by the Zambian case. The form of this debate and the issues driving its dynamics, are interesting both in themselves and also because they reveal something about the form by which public biotechnological debate, or public controversy on biotechnology, takes in public domains. This paper is an experimental intellectual exercise, an attempt at a conceptual analysis of “public debate” as a derivative, but quintessential, concept within what is broadly conceived of as public understanding of science. Thus, this conceptual analysis is an attempt at a prolegomena for, i.e. a preparatory conceptual approach to, our understanding better what public debate on science is and how it works in practice.
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 89-102
Journal Public Understanding of Science, 15 (2006) 1
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)