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Now the Pundit really does understand the French. GMOs are merely collateral damage from L’Affaire du sang contaminé and Histoire de la vache folle.

02:59 EDT 17 May 2019 | GMO pundit


Book translated by Patricia Stapleton

From Mad Cows to GMOs: The Side Effects of Modernization Patricia A. Stapleton https://doi.org/10.1017/S1867299X0000605X
Published online: 20 January 2017

Ulrich Beck's Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity provides a lens through which we can analyze contemporary debates over risk regulation of agricultural biotechnology. This article establishes the political and cultural context into which genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were introduced in the European Union, by reviewing the HIV-contaminated blood scandal, mad cow crisis, and dioxin contamination episode. These public health and food safety scandals exemplify the side effects of modernization as outlined by Beck. Beck also predicted the development of a solidarity arising from the public's anxiety over the global distribution of modernization's risks. The impact of these cases on risk regulation illustrates the political and social reaction to the invisible, global risks of late modernity. The subsequent response to this reaction in European risk regulation further demonstrates the tension between a globalizing market and public anxiety in risk society.

Patricia Stapleton's well written and comprehensively researched exposition of the scandals preceding first arrival of GMO soybeans in Europe is a fascinating read.

At last the Pundit totally understands why France, and Europe in general, reacted so strongly to the first American GMO commodity import arrivals in the 1990s.  Their rejection was, in a sense, culturally rational.  

In political terms, Stapleton ably demonstrates that it was totally predictable that French politicians find some way of avoiding blame for any potential harm GMO animal feeds might cause. 

Patricia's article is well worth the time of any serious student of GMO events past and present, especially aspiring biotech entrepreneurs. 

The Pundit is tempted also to now read Ulrich Beck's Risk Society too, or even in his dreams, go the whole hog and tackle Histoire de la vache folle.

But not tonight. For the moment, From Mad Cows to GMOs is sufficient bedtime reading.

Original Article: Now the Pundit really does understand the French. GMOs are merely collateral damage from L’Affaire du sang contaminé and Histoire de la vache folle.

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