Making Biotechnology Happen. Agricultural Biotechnology Policy

Mercy Wambui

Student thesis: Master thesis


The thesis, Making Biotechnology Happen: Agricultural Biotechnology Policy, is the most comprehensive analysis of the Danish agricultural biotechnology Policy to date. It is concerned with the processes by which Danish policymakers implemented the Gene Technology Act in the period 1989-1997. Particularly, the thesis considers the regulation of the release and marketing of genetically modified sugar beets and fodder beets by the biggest plant breeding company in Denmark, Danisco —as a case study of science and technology policy-making under circumstances in which a large number of different social interests are actively involved in the policy-making process. Sociologists have paid considerable attention to the difficulties of policy-making under such circumstances. In particularly, they have emphasised that under the conditions of post modernity, issues of scientific ignorance, uncertainty and risk come to play a crucially important part in public debate and decision-making processes. The thesis develops Ulrich Beck's idea of reflexive modernisation, and Douglas Torgerson's notion of the "third face" of policy analysis - as tools for the analysis of Danish policy-making in the area of GMO release. Finally, the thesis considers the implications of the case study for current sociological and policy science theories of decision making in sceptical contexts. The general conclusion is that, throughout the policy implementation process, the Danish government consistently maintained a wholly supportive stance towards the development and application of modern agricultural biotechnology. But faced with a potentially sceptical and risk-averse public, the Danish government developed a sophisticated policy infrastructure that gave every appearance of: being somehow ambivalent about modern agricultural biotechnology; integrating both scientific advice and public perceptions in the decision making process; being cautious, transparent and responsible. However, this infrastructure curtailed considerable democratic scrutiny while facilitating the continued development of agricultural biotechnology in Denmark.

EducationsTekSam - Technological and Socio-Economic Planning, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date1 Jun 1999
Number of pages202
SupervisorsClaus Henrik Heinberg & Jesper Holm