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The Genetically Modified (GM) Food Labelling Controversy: Ideological and Epistemic Crossovers

  • Mikael Klintman
Publishing year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 71-91
Publication/Series: Social Studies of Science
Volume: 32
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: SAGE Publications

Abstract english

In the debate surrounding genetically modified (GM) food, intense controversies pertain over whether, or how, GM food products ought to be labelled. This paper examines how the GM-supportive and GM-sceptical alliances use arguments regarding labelling so as to strengthen their respective positions. It is an examination of conflicting arguments across social coalitions, corporations and policy-makers, mainly in the USA, but with certain European comparisons. The empirical material consists of written statements by the different groups. The paper suggests that the ideological and epistemological tenets are radically transformed, or even ‘crossed over’, between GM proponents and opponents when the focus is moved from GM per se to labelling. Two types of crossovers are identified: (i) the crossover of ideologies, and (ii) the crossover of epistemologies. The paper concludes that, while implementing mandatory GM labelling may have several democratic advantages, it is more urgent that both alliances become more reflexive and communicative concerning inconsistent or eclectic crossovers – both ideological and epistemological.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • alliances
  • consumerism
  • epistemic relativism
  • framing
  • public understanding of science


Mikael Klintman
E-mail: mikael [dot] klintman [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 70 284 55 48

+46 70 284 55 48


Sociologiska institutionen, Paradisgatan 5, Hus G, Lund


Sociologist with a broad, human scientific interest in social, economic and evolutionary dimensions of environmental and health related problems.

Department of Sociology
Lund University
Visiting address: Sandgatan 11, House G, Lund
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Faculty of Social Sciences