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NGOs and GMOs - A Case Study In Alternative Science Communication

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- Maeseele et al,  Javnost - the Public,  16(4):55-72).

This article seeks to understand how and why we find local NGOs performing a role as alternative science communicators in the social conflict concerning agricultural biotechnology. First, a literature review points out that in the face of modernisation risks tech no-scientific development has become contradictory, an evolution exemplified as well as driven by interdisciplinary antagonisms."

This creates opportunities for a scientifically supported public critique of science and technology by new social movements. In addition, the commercialisation of science has brought forward a ''science-industrial complex'' united by economic interests in the promotion of biotechnology on the one hand, and has contributed to a practice of science communication using the logic of public relations and corporate communication on the other.

Once institutional science communication becomes hard to distinguish from corporate communication, NGOs are found to contest and reframe scientific knowledge by aiming at instigating epistemic shifts in institutionalised scientific conceptions and discursive changes in the social values underlying science. Second, I report on the findings of six in-depth interviews with spokespersons for these NGOs, the aim being to achieve an understanding of how these NGOs make sense of their encounters with science in the GM debate and how they situate themselves in their role as alternative science communicators," wrote P. Maeseele and colleagues, Erasmus University (see also Biotechnology).

Finally, I conclude by making some recommendations for journalism in general and science journalism in particular.
P. Maeseele, Erasmus University, College Brussels, NL-3000 DR Rotterdam, Netherlands. 'Javnost - the Public' is from European Institute Communication Culture, PO Box 2511, Ljubljana 1001, Slovenia.