Recombinant bovine somatotropin : challenging Canada's science-based regulatory system and the emergence of post-normal science
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Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST) is a biotechnology for increasing milk production in dairy cattle. The purpose of this research was to investigate and to build a better understanding of the complexities and controversies around this product in Canada. To accomplish this, I examined the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry’s inquiry into rBST and the drug approval process. I compared and contrasted the testimony of witnesses and Senators and I uncovered emerging issues, patterns, and themes. This research was an exploratory and qualitative exercise that analyzed how the participants of this Senate inquiry conceptualized and contested the meaning of science, safety, and the state’s regulatory functions. This research revealed several commonalities between Health Canada management, the human safety panel, and industry representatives. These witnesses argued that the drug approval process must be efficient, standard-driven, and based upon available scientific studies. These witnesses stated that they had confidence in the neutrality and competency of internal standard setting-agencies. They emphasized transparency rather than public participation in the drug approval process. Health and safety were conceptualized as static phenomena to be measured and evaluated by experts. In contrast, Health Canada employees had several commonalities with the Senators, dairy representatives, and witnesses from citizen interest groups. Their testimony supports the argument that health and safety are dynamic social constructs. These actors transformed the boundaries of science to accommodate their precautionary framing of safety. They highlighted several problems with Canada’s science-based regulatory framework and demanded that they have a decisive voice in the rBST decision. They challenged the hegemony of industrial capitalism by combining both scientific and lay knowledge to expose the limits and contradictions of industrialized agriculture.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeMehta, Michael D.; Baber, Zaheer
Copyright DateNovember 2005
recombinant bovine somatotropin