Fern Wickson mottar prestisjefylt stipend for unge forskningstalenter


Fern WicksonForsker Fern Wickson har fått 7,1 millioner kroner for et nytt fireårig forskningsprosjekt under FRIPRO-programmet til Norges Forskningsråd. Detaljer om prosjektet følger nedenfor.

The Agri/Cultures Project: Operationalising Norway’s Gene Technology Act and its Requirement for Social and Ethical Justifiability

The use of biotechnology has been the singularly most controversial development in modern agriculture and remains an issue of unresolved social and political tension around the globe. Norway is unique internationally in that its Gene Technology Act (GTA) explicitly aims to ensure that the introduction and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is “socially and ethically justifiable”, requiring consideration be given to societal benefit and contribution to sustainable development. However, a distinct lack of empirical knowledge and concrete methods for this type of assessment currently inhibit the ability to operationalize these unique features.

To help address this problem, the Agri/Cultures project seeks to: a) develop new methods for conceptualising and researching biotechnologies not as isolated objects but as networks of socio-cultural and eco-technical relations, and b) explore novel ways to capture and visualize these networks so that the information is accessible, relevant and useful for publics and policy-makers, and c) generate empirical knowledge that can enable the assessment of such relational networks against criteria of sustainability, societal benefit and ethical justifiability. In doing so  the project seeks to address the concrete policy need of operationalizing the Norwegian Gene Technology Act (GTA) and its internationally unique requirement to assess biotechnology according to criteria of societal benefit, contribution to sustainable development and ethical justifiability. To create analytic depth to complement a broad ranging scope, Bt maize will be used as a case study and in later years, the project will place a spotlight on a particular set of stakeholders within the relational network who are crucial yet particularly vulnerable actorsin agricultural systems: bees and their keepers.

The project addresses the following research questions, each with a dedicated work package:

1. What are the relational networks involved in different agricultural systems (e.g. biotechnological, conventional, and organic maize)?

2. How can these different relational networks be assessed and compared against the Norwegian GTAs criteria of societal benefit, contribution to sustainable development and ethical justifiability?

3. What is the relationship between the Norwegian GTAs criteria and the prevailing European policy commitment to coexistence of agricultural systems?

4. How do the different relational networks interact with bee/keepers as a vulnerable social group and how would an assessment of the GTA criteria be for this particular stakeholder?

5. How is the European policy commitment to co-existence between agricultural systems both affecting, and being affected by, bee/keepers?

In addition to standard academic deliverables such as publications in international peer-reviewed journals, policy reports and articles in the popular press, this project will also create 4 short films to help communicate its research and results.

Applications are currently open for a PhD student to work with Fern on this project.