Deconstructing ‘genetically modified organisms’: academic discourse on ‘GMOs’ and its effect on popular understandings of food and agriculture | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1474-2748
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0551


In the popular discourse on food and agriculture, one struggles to find two terms as commonly used, yet as poorly understood, as ‘genetically modified’ and ‘biotechnology’. The misunderstanding surrounding these terms is at least partially perpetuated by the fact that most social science literature on transgenic agriculture contains much of the same imprecise and inaccurate terminology found in the popular discourse on ‘GM crops’. The effect this adoption of terms has on discourse is two-fold: social science literature on ‘GMOs’ reaches a broader audience while at the same time such literature re-enforces common misconceptions on the nature of transgenic biotechnology. This article argues that phrases such as ‘genetically modified’ (and related terms) are imprecise, misleading, and thus should be eschewed by social scientists and other academics conducting research on this topic. In place of this phraseology, terms such as ‘transgenic’ and ‘rDNA-derived biotechnology’ should be adopted where appropriate. Not only would this shift in terminology have the advantage of being more accurate and precise, it would also encourage the emergence of a more informed popular discourse on this controversial aspect of agricultural research and food production.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...
  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): agriculture; biotechnology; crop science; discourse; GMOs; transgenics
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error