I completed a five year programme in Communications Studies at the University of Bologna, Italy. I joined Egenis and the University of Exeter in October 2004 under the supervision of Prof Barry Barnes and completed my PhD in 2008. My PhD thesis is a contribution to historical sociology dealing with the role of major institutions in UK GM regulatory debates and initiatives in the 1980s and early 1990s. I am now working at the National Institute for Health Research in London , as programme manager for the Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme.
The following is a brief description of the project.
It is a widespread idea among many institutions that distrust towards techno-science dominates the non-expert public. The attitude of the European public towards GM applications, especially in the food industry, is often considered to be the outcome of this feeling. Up until now, a multiplicity of institutions, from the European Union to single governments, from multinationals to universities, has tried to inquire into the reasons for such uneasiness.
But dealing with GMOs has never been unproblematic. Long before GMOs were a popular issue in public arenas, at least in the UK, the British government and the biotech industry joined their efforts to lay the ground for both the appropriate regulation of the emerging economic, scientific and technological sector and an effective communication campaign aimed at obtaining public support on GM technology.
I will interpret the nature of the interactions that occurred among these institutions during the earliest stages of the GM debate, between the late '80s and early '90s. In particular, I want to determine if and how the initial institutional framing of the GM problem and its communication to a wider public can be considered responsible for the later public response towards GMOs. This may allow me to advance a different and/or complementary way of looking at the problem of public uptake of GMOs from those usually proposed, and to suggest new strategies for institutional communication on technological issues.