Biotech Contentions

April 25-26, 2008

This workshop, free and open to the public, was sponsored by the ISS Contentious Knowledge Research Team.

Among the most contentious strands of knowledge in the contemporary world is that surrounding transgenic organisms: “GMOs” in popular parlance. These products of genetic engineering have been presented in global politics as promising a significant improvement in the human condition or threatening its extinction. This workshop looked specifically at contestation of authoritative claims in the global debate: bioproperty, biosafety, biopolitics. How have social movements deployed authoritative knowledge to back their positions and legitimate their standing? How is science interjected into the contention; what difference does science make?  What has been the basis of operative authority? How has framing of genetic engineering and its products affected regulatory science and national politics in different world regions? How does the GMO debate fit into other strands of the international movement confronting globalization? The point of the workshop is to understand the strands of contention empirically, not to itself generate contention.


Richard Bownas, Government, Cornell University
Sarah Nell Davidson, Plant Biology, Cornell University
Ron Herring
, Government, Cornell University
Milind Kandlikar, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia
William Munro, Political Science, Illinois Wesleyan University
Robert Paarlberg, Political Science, Wellesley College
Kyoko Sato, ISS, Cornell University
Rachel Schurman, Sociology, University of Minnesota
Sivramiah [Shanthu] Shantaram, President, Biologistics International
Janice Thies, Crop & Soil Sciences, Cornell University

Organizing Committee

Ron Herring, Department of Government
Janice Thies, Department of Crop & Soil Sciences
Sarah Soule, Department of Sociology
Anneliese Truame & Judi Eastburn, ISS Administrative Staff

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