"Trust" and New Participatory Forms of Governance for (Bio)Technological Change
This paper analyses inquiries into genetic engineering, especially concerning environmental release of GMOs, in Australia and New Zealand. It argues that the inquiries form integral sites of GM regimes of governance. Following Michel Foucault-governance refers to those techniques, mechanisms, strategies, practices and interventions that serve or strive to regulate, discipline and control certain 'problem populations' primarily for purposes of maintaining order. Sites of governance though extend beyond state power to include technoscientific networks, regulatory agencies, state ministries, the media, policy networks, and many agencies of civil society. Society thus becomes 'governable' through the interventions and rationale of a policy field-or the exertion of a plural configuration of strategic interests. In the case of biotechnology, a 'community' of bio-elites has traditionally been able to configure governance to their interests. Part of that configuring has been to adopt the conventional approach to governance of relying increasingly on technical knowledge in and around a nexus of regulation and control. Here, truth and rationality become predicated upon the articulation of certain bodies of organised knowledge more to do with the imperatives of governance for industrial society than of impartial scientific inquiry. The textual narrative of bioscience-which offers bio-utopian deterministic, benign and utilitarian outcomes-has assumed policy dominance as that truth and rationality. Certain inquiries in Australia and New Zealand-specifically Australia's 1992 House of Representatives Inquiry into Genetic Manipulation and New Zealand's Royal Commission on Genetic Modification-we argue, represent a key part of that textualising terrain for GM governance. They have tended to reinforce and legitimise modernist policy narratives of science and GM, and disempower other contesting ways of knowledge concerning GM, especially environmentalist ones. In this way these inquires, which can be seen as processes to gain public trust, in marginalising public input, have instead heightened mistrust in the governance of genetic engineering.
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