Framing the Debate: Narratives of Risk in Press Coverage of GM Food

Li, Sen-Yin. 2006. Framing the Debate: Narratives of Risk in Press Coverage of GM Food. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis explores how the debate on genetic modification (GM) and the controversial character of GM food are represented in British newspapers. The dominant narrative, which is repeatedly reproduced in news stories of various events concerning GM food, focuses on risk as the crucial issue: GM food is 'riskified' and its risk is represented as an objectified and factual one which can be verified or falsified by scientific practices. The narrative also highlights the significance of the 'scientific fact' which can be used to rationalise the political decision on GM food.
This thesis discusses the narrative through its analysis of news stories about five events: the first GM food product in the UK in 1996, the EU approval of importing American GM maize in 1996, the 'controversy' of Dr Pusztai's findings about the risk ofGM potato in 1999, the regulation oflabelling GM food products in 1999, and the results from the field trials about the risk of growing GM crops in 2003. This narrative represents the reality of GM food in such a way that its readers are led into being more concerned with the effect than the history of GM food. It also leads its readers to expect that science can settle the controversy of GM food. The thesis attempts to search for alternative narratives in which the problem of GM food can be defined and solved in more democratic and productive ways.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


GM food, British newspapers, science

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

29 May 2020 14:18

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:29


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