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Dreyer, Marion and Gill, Bernhard (2000): Germany: Continued 'elite precaution' alongside continued public opposition. In: Journal of Risk Research, Vol. 3, No. 4: pp. 219-222 [PDF, 158kB]


Germany is the EU member state with the most difficult marketing situation (besides Austria) as regards genetically modified (gm) crops and food. At the same time, it shows the least administrative effort to respond to the reasons for this situation - public suspicion and protest. Regulators advocate specific precaution-related measures, which, however, do not relate to the primary demands of critics and opponents. The administration's claim to prioritize scientific evidence over politics constructs the administration and the public as two separated worlds without real mediation. This contrasts with the ever growing demands for public participation. Participation in a broader sense, however, is not dependent on formal opportunities. In this conflict, NGOs bring up issues of democracy, transparency and precaution by means of public mobilization. An anticipated consumer boycott and, following from this, a commercial blockage of gm products are the effects of this strategy. These dynamics can be analysed as political tensions brought about by a politico-administrative system which sticks to a legalistic-scientistic approach when dealing with 'modernization risks'. At the level of formal politics, reflexive modernization occurs without 'reflexive politics', that is, without measures to overcome prognostic uncertainty by trust and participation.

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