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Shaping Discourse and Policy for Genetically Modified Food: Risk for Whom?

This research compares the processes of adoption of agrobiotechnology in Argentina and Brazil. Transgenic seeds arrived in the Conosur of Latin American soon after their adoption in the USA. Today, Argentina and Brazil, together with the pioneer and leader, USA, form the top three world producers of GM crops. However, while Argentina unambiguously embraced agricultural biotechnology in a progressive way, the story in Brazil is far from linear. To the contrary, it started illegally by smuggling seeds form Argentina and entailed a long struggle between proponents and opponents of transgenic seeds, which extended for about ten years. The last years have acknowledged a governmental policy clearly favourable to genetically modified seeds. Political mobilization against the technology has decreased but is enduring, both in the center of the political system and in civil society. In order to be able to compare across such different cases and explain which factors played a role either for the emergence of contention or for its silence, this study resorts to a theory of the public sphere. Since the majority of political activities are undertaken in a routine modus, the interesting question is to ask why some topics are brought to the centre of attention of the political system and others not.

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