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  • Cited by 9
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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Tagliabue, Giovanni 2018. Scientific mistakes from the agri-food biotech critics. Life Sciences, Society and Policy, Vol. 14, Issue. 1,

    Soule, Sarah A. and Roggeband, Conny 2018. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. p. 236.

    Tagliabue, G 2018. OPINION PIECE Counterproductive consequences of ‘anti-GMO’ activism. Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, Vol. 18, Issue. , p. 61.

    BOWNAS, RICHARD 2017. The upside-down roots of a transnational advocacy network: applying an ‘organizational ecology’ approach to the anti-GMO network. Global Networks, Vol. 17, Issue. 2, p. 195.

    Tagliabue, Giovanni 2017. The central dogma, “GMO” and defective epistemology. GM Crops & Food, Vol. 8, Issue. 4, p. 209.

    Herring, Ronald J. 2015. State science, risk and agricultural biotechnology: Bt cotton to Bt Brinjal in India. The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 42, Issue. 1, p. 159.

    Motta, Renata 2014. Social Disputes over GMOs: An Overview. Sociology Compass, Vol. 8, Issue. 12, p. 1360.

    Herring, Ronald J 2014. On risk and regulation: Bt crops in India. GM Crops & Food, Vol. 5, Issue. 3, p. 204.

    Lemańczyk, Szczepan 2014. Science and National Pride. Science Communication, Vol. 36, Issue. 2, p. 194.

  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

5 - Framing the GMO: Epistemic Brokers, Authoritative Knowledge, and Diffusion of Opposition to Biotechnology


I blame GM crops for farmers' suicides.

His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, October 5, 2008


Why would Prince Charles famously declare that farmers commit suicide because of “GM crops”? At first blush, the declaration seems counterintuitive: Farmers have adopted transgenic crops rapidly and widely over the past twelve years where they are affordable and available. Why would people whose livelihoods depend on planting the right seeds select ones that are driving their neighbors to suicide? Does global diffusion of agricultural biotechnology indicate false consciousness on the part of farmers? Are they duped or innumerate? Prince Charles did not concoct his conclusion from whole cloth, nor is he alone in his outrage over the continuing holocaust of poor farmers at the hands of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Widespread anxiety and outrage derive from authoritative knowledge claims diffused within transnational advocacy networks. Of particular importance are epistemic brokers, who occupy critical nodes at the intersection of local and global networks. Epistemic brokers select, contextualize, authenticate, sometimes theorize, and always disseminate knowledge about transgenic crops. Both networks and brokers are enabled by the historical framing of agricultural biotechnology: the lumping and splitting of recombinant DNA technologies that made the GMO.

With rapid diffusion of biotechnology has come reciprocal diffusion of frames, knowledge, and tactics to block transgenic crops. Unlike control of international air traffic or infectious diseases, no authoritative knowledge provides consensual norms for products of genetic engineering (Jasanoff 2005).

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The Diffusion of Social Movements
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