PARADYS project is a study on citizen participation in the regulation of plant biotechnology in Europe, namely in the licesing procedure for geneticaly modified plant (GMOs). The research consortium has been funded by the European Commission between 2001 and 2004 (contract no. HPSE-CT2001-00050.) Focusing on citizen participation winthin legally framed administrative decision making procedures, the project contributes to the analysis of European governance practices. The social, political, and legal regulation of partecipation is a prominent issue to reflect upon concepts of governance and citizenship in the context of science and technology, which have intensely been discussed over the last decades in various political and social science studies.
After a preliminary phase dedicated to the study of European and domestic standards concerning transgenic applications, the research activity focussed on participation practices used by the citizens in specific local communities where open-field experiments with GMOs are underway.
Thanks to the study of materials collected by means of interviews, focus groups, on-site observations and video recordings, it was possible to analyse in detail how citizenship discussions were structured by the various subjects involved. Within this framework, citizenship was considered from a social point of view, analysing its various facets having regard to participation and the “social positioning” of the actors involved with respect to the subject examined.
The Italian case highlighted an information deficit on the part of national and local institutions as well as growing demands from the public at large. Apart from this, the sociological analysis revealed the existence of structured participation areas outside the contexts set out by the laws currently in force, leading to relevant actions by various organisations in civil society.
Finally, the comparison between the different countries made it possible to highlight the adoption of different participation practices on a national level, these range from limited institutional information actions to consultation and involvement processes of local communities.
To know more about the project, Download the project presentation and visit its webpage