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From Biotech to Nanotech

Public Debates about Technological Modifi cation of Food

Jennifer B. Rogers-Brown, Christine Shearer and Barbara Herr Harthorn

Technological modifications of food are being marketed as novel products that will enhance consumer choice and nutritional value. A recent manifestation is nanotechnology, entering the global food chain through food production, pesticides, vitamins, and food packaging. This article presents a detailed literature review on risk and benefit perceptions of technological developments for food and agriculture, including our own research from US deliberative workshops on nanotechnologies. The article suggests that many of the public concerns discussed in the literature on biotechnology in food are being raised in qualitative and quantitative studies on nanotechnologies for food: although nanotechnologies are generally perceived to be beneficial, many people express particular uneasiness about nanotechnological modifications of food. The article argues that these concerns represent material examples of unresolved social issues involving technologies and the food industry, including questions about the benefits of nanotechnology for food, and the heightened values attached to food as a cultural domain.

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People's Mic and democratic charisma

Occupy Wall Street's frontier assemblies

Chris Garces

The People's Mic is a new genre of political speech. In Occupy Wall Street (OWS) general assemblies, this tactile media for public deliberation was integral to embodying new political community across American cities in a globally oriented movement of the squares. Whether or not OWS has exemplified direct democracy per se, the People's Mic has cultivated new forms of democratic charisma between previously disaggregated constituencies-a “leaderful charisma“, with historical roots in pious American oratorical traditions (“hallowed speech“) and more recent movements for intercultural solidarity building (global justice, horizontalist, feminist, etc.). In this article, I signal how the People's Mic atavistically conjured and resembled the American town hall meeting in a contemporary and heterogeneous US frontier assembly. Before its strategic incapacitation, the Occupy movement's widespread use of People's Mic served to undermine the authority of private-public monopolies and to place a check on mounting police repression of urban space.

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Understanding Agency: Social Theory and Responsible Action, by Barry Barnes. London: Sage Publications, 2000. Reviewed by Christine MacDonald

Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice, by Bent Flyvbjerg. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Reviewed by Roger Deacon

Is Data Human? The Metaphysics of Star Trek, by Richard Hanley. Basic Books, 1997. Reviewed by Deane Baker

The Skeptical Environmentalist, by Bjorn Lomborg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Reviewed by Julia de Kadt

Edward Said and the Writing of History, by Shelley Walia. Icon/Totem Books, 2001. Edward Said: A Critical Introduction, by Valerie Kennedy. Cambridge: Polity, 2000. The Edward Said Reader, edited by Moustafa Bayoumi, Andrew Rubin and Edward Said. Vintage Books, 2000. Reviewed by Derek Hook

Lenin: A Biography, by Robert Service. London: Macmillan, 2000. Reviewed by Derek Hook

Citizenship and Democracy in a Global Era, edited by Andrew Vandenberg. Macmillan and St Martin’s Press, 2000. Reviewed by Kirsten Trotter

Democracy as Public Deliberation: New Perspectives, edited by Maurizio Passerin d’Entrèves. Perspectives on Democratisation Series. Manchester University Press: Manchester and New York, 2002. Reviewed by Laurence Piper