The old saying “you are what you eat” has taken on an interesting dimension in New Zealand recently. The genetically modified (GM) food debate has been in the headlines for more than two years, raising a raft of issues in the media involving risks, benefits, food and health scares and the threat of “superweeds” in the countryside. The Green Party, on the margins of New Zealand politics since the 1970s, hold the balance of power in government after a highly successful 1999 election campaign based largely on anti-GM issues of organics and food safety.

GM food means far more to New Zealanders than deciding what they are prepared to buy and eat. Cultural Studies approaches to media texts suggest that debates about GM food raise fundamental questions about cultural identity. Case studies from leading New Zealand newspapers unpack the values, habits, attitudes and beliefs that are central to media representation of the issues, and show how they impact on our daily lives. Also, how these representations work to incorporate dissent in society, and what this means for individuals and the nation.

This  paper,  completed  in  partial  fulfilment  of  post-graduate  media  and  communications  study  at Massey  University,  gives  insight  into  how  science  appears  in  the  public  sphere  and  explores  the  various roles  scientists  play  in  the  media.  It  also  examines  the  possible  limitations  of  the  Cultural  Studies hegemonic model in theorising contemporary New Zealand identity.


 

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Food fight
Identity and representation of the genetically modified food debate in the New Zealand Print Media

Deborah Potter  

The old saying “you are what you eat” has taken on an interesting dimension in New Zealand recently. The genetically modified (GM) food debate has been in the headlines for more than two years, raising a raft of issues in the media involving risks, benefits, food and health scares and the threat of “superweeds” in the countryside. The Green Party, on the margins of New Zealand politics since the 1970s, hold the balance of power in government after a highly successful 1999 election campaign based largely on anti-GM issues of organics and food safety.

GM food means far more to New Zealanders than deciding what they are prepared to buy and eat. Cultural Studies approaches to media texts suggest that debates about GM food raise fundamental questions about cultural identity. Case studies from leading New Zealand newspapers unpack the values, habits, attitudes and beliefs that are central to media representation of the issues, and show how they impact on our daily lives. Also, how these representations work to incorporate dissent in society, and what this means for individuals and the nation.

This  paper,  completed  in  partial  fulfilment  of  post-graduate  media  and  communications  study  at Massey  University,  gives  insight  into  how  science  appears  in  the  public  sphere  and  explores  the  various roles  scientists  play  in  the  media.  It  also  examines  the  possible  limitations  of  the  Cultural  Studies hegemonic model in theorising contemporary New Zealand identity.


 

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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