The changing governance of biotechnology: The politics of public trust in the agrifood sector

L.J. Frewer, B. Salter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


There has been much recent debate about the declining public trust in science, scientific institutions and the regulation of science. Negative attitudes towards genetic modification on the part of the public politicised the processes associated with its governance. It is argued that public trust in science is a statement about the legitimacy of the activities that take place as part of science, including regulation. However, those involved in the process of governance must also manage the tensions between public trust and industrial need. Scientific authority cannot be the sole arbiter of relevant standards and judgements. Governance of biotechnology (and, indeed, other technologies) has to move from an elitist model where science can act as the authoritative source for risk regulation to one where citizens have a voice as one of the constituent elements of the political discourse. Engaging the public in the governance process without explicitly demonstrating that there is a policy impact resulting from such involvement will, however, increase public distrust in the motives of institutional and industrial actors within the agri-food biotechnology sector
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-211
JournalApplied biotechnology, food science and policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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