Democracy, participation and 'scientific citizenship': New Zealand Initiatives
The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification (2000 – 2001) was a major exercise in the construction of ‘scientific citizenship’ in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It was closely followed by a general election in which state regulation of genetic modification was a significant issue. In the aftermath of intensive public discussion about the utilization of new biotechnologies and the development of a national biotechnology strategy, the state is investing in research directed at dialogic approaches to debates about new technologies. This paper reflects on these initiatives and analyses the challenges confronting those experimenting with interventions directed at dialogic discussion between Māori and non-Māori members of community organisations, scientists, clinicians, policy-makers, lobby groups and actors in the biotechnology industry. It explores the ways in which participatory processes pioneered in Scandinavia, Canada, the UK and Europe are being modified in the New Zealand context and reflects on the possibility of developing New Zealand-specific strategies for effecting ‘scientific citizenship’.