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OGM : un terme polysémique à l’épreuve de la communication et de l’évaluation

Abstract : The history of genetic engineering is inseparable from the development of risk management policies, and the first standards regulating genetic manipulation were established towards the end of the 1970s. However, although the idea of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been a topic of heated public debate for more than twenty years, the term itself is multivalent in the extreme. The expression “genetically modified” is not so much a scientific term as an oversimplified description of modifications made to biological systems. It is mainly a category used for legal purposes that has come into common parlance, but scarcely reflects the biological complexity involved or the diversity of the technological processes used. Its widespread use among the public has masked its multivalency as well as the need for a sense of proportion in assessing the potential risks of products manufactured by genetic engineering. This has raised serious issues in terms of information and communication, in that order. Uses of the term GMO should be based on very exact definitions that will vary depending on techniques. The communicational issue is becoming increasingly acute with the emergence of new techniques for biological modification that are likely to be assessed according to the current socio-legal model for GMOs, even though some are producing organisms that cannot be distinguished from natural variants. These practices therefore call both current legal definitions and communication strategies into question. They also underline the multivalency of the term “genetically modified”, which has different meanings depending on whether it used as a legal or biological term or in common parlance.
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Virginie Tournay, Jean-Christophe Pagès. OGM : un terme polysémique à l’épreuve de la communication et de l’évaluation. Hermès, La Revue- Cognition, communication, politique, CNRS-Editions, 2015, 3 (73), pp.233 - 243. ⟨hal-01560050v2⟩

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