Volume 7, Number 4, Juillet-Août 2000
|Page(s)||366 - 369|
|Section||Dossier : “OGM: expertise et décision publique”|
|Published online||15 July 2000|
RISK MANAGEMENT AND EXPERTISE: Germany: “Elite precaution” alongside continued public opposition
Institute of Sociology, University of Munich, Konradstrasse 6, D-80801 München, Germany
Germany is the EU member state with the most difficult situation (besides Austria) for marketing genetically modified (GM) crops and food. At the same time, it shows the least administrative effort to respond to the reasons for this situation - public suspicion and protest. Regulators advocate specific precaution-related measures, including market-stage monitoring; these measures, however, do not relate to the primary demands of critics and opponents. The administration’s claim to prioritize scientific evidence over politics constructs the administration and the public as two separate worlds without real mediation. This conflicts with the ever-growing demands for public participation. Participation in a broader sense, however, is not dependent on formal opportunities. In this conflict, NGOs bring up issues of democracy, transparency and precaution through public mobilization. This strategy results in an anticipated consumer boycott and thereby a commercial blockage of GM products. These dynamics can be analysed as “reflexive modernization”, which implies greater public aversion to externally imposed risks. The politico-administrative system responds with a legalistic-scientistic approach in order to increase safety but without participatory measures to overcome predictive uncertainty and value conflicts. Environmental and consumer protest has led the technology providers to revise their political strategies in the biotechnology conflict. Thus, in Germany reflexive modernization takes place without reflexive politics.
Key words: reflexive modernization / precaution / GM crops and food / commercialisation / anticipated consumer boycott
© John Libbey Eurotext 2000
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