Aiming for the discursive high ground: Monsanto and the biotechnology controversy

  • Kleinman D
  • Kloppenburg J
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The past several years have seen the publication of a great deal of e-xciting theoretical work on ideology and discourse. There has, however, been much less empirical work in the area. In this essay, we undertake a study of a specific set of discursive products developed by Monsanto Corporation in its efforts to shape public opinion and the terms of debate in the controversy over the development of biotechnology. Drawing on existing work, we suggest that relationships between signifiers and signifieds are not natural, but social creations, and that the creation of signs is often the product of social struggles. We show how Monsanto has drawn on discursive elements with historical resonance to create an image of biotechnology that the company hopes will lead to public support for the technology or, at the very least, will stifle opposition.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Monsanto
  • biotechnology
  • discourse
  • ideology
  • technological controversy

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  • Daniel Lee Kleinman

  • Jack Kloppenburg

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