2001 volume 19(4) pages 529 – 555
doi:10.1068/c8s

Cite as:
Stirling A, Mayer S, 2001, "A novel approach to the appraisal of technological risk: a multicriteria mapping study of a genetically modified crop" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 19(4) 529 – 555

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A novel approach to the appraisal of technological risk: a multicriteria mapping study of a genetically modified crop

Andy Stirling, Sue Mayer

Received 26 April 2000; in revised form 30 October 2000

Abstract. The recent controversy over genetically modified (GM) foods amply demonstrates the general difficulties encountered in the social appraisal of technological risk. Existing procedures for regulatory appraisal neglect many possible forms of impact and routinely exclude important cultural and social dimensions of risk. A narrow, expert, 'science-based' approach is now widely acknowledged to be insufficient. There is a need for new approaches that are more broadly based, transparent, pluralistic and ready to acknowledge uncertainty as well as being practically feasible and robust. The authors investigate the potential for a novel 'multicriteria mapping' (MCM) method as one such possible tool. Drawing on a variety of perspectives in the current UK debate, a range of agricultural strategies for the production of oilseed rape, including both GM and non-GM options were explored in this MCM pilot exercise. The results demonstrate the general feasibility and positive potential of this type of approach, with specific findings providing modest insights for policymaking in this difficult area.

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