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Understanding Public Calls for Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods: Analysis of a Public Deliberation on Genetically Modified Salmon
Shauna Nep & Kieran O'Doherty
a a b

W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
b

Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada Version of record first published: 19 Oct 2012.

To cite this article: Shauna Nep & Kieran O'Doherty (2012): Understanding Public Calls for Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods: Analysis of a Public Deliberation on Genetically Modified Salmon, Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal, DOI:10.1080/08941920.2012.716904 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2012.716904

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Society and Natural Resources, 0:116 Copyright # 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0894-1920 print=1521-0723 online DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2012.716904

Understanding Public Calls for Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods: Analysis of a Public Deliberation on Genetically Modified Salmon
SHAUNA NEP
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W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

KIERAN ODOHERTY
Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
This article addresses public attitudes toward the possible introduction of transgenic salmon for human consumption. We draw on data from a deliberative public engagement in British Columbia, Canada, in which participants discussed the social and ethical implications of salmon genomics. One conclusion of this public deliberation was a call for mandatory labeling of transgenic salmon (if approved for consumption). We present a qualitative analysis of the discussions leading up to this conclusion. We identify four themes that characterized these discussions: call for labeling as an expression of distrust; labeling and control; call for labeling as a request for transparency; and labeling to gain acceptance of genetically modified (GM) foods. Our aim is to better inform academic and policy debates on GM food labeling through the considered input of a lay public. Our analysis suggests that the issue of labeling, with underlying public concerns, is currently inadequately addressed in Canadas regulatory frameworks. Keywords British Columbia, food labeling, genetically modified foods, GM salmon, public deliberation, salmon genomics, transgenic

Received 29 November 2010; accepted 22 May 2012. The deliberative democracy on salmon genomics research team is part of the Genome Canada and Genome BC funded project Building a GE3LS Architecture through the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics at the University of British Columbia. Research team members providing essential theoretical and logistical support for the event were: Michael Burgess, Dan Badulescu, Emma Cohen, Isaac Filate, Alice Hawkins, Darquise Lafreniere, Holly Longstaff, Hannah Lewis, Sacha Ludgate, Samantha Maclean, Ania Mizgalewicz, Shauna Nep, Kieran ODoherty, Alexis Paton, David Secko, and Elizabeth Wilcox. Additional valuable input on the project was received from collaborators, Marie-Eve Couture Menard, Carolina Monardes, and Richard Roberts. The deliberative engagement was funded by Genome Canada, Genome BC, and the Consortium for Genomic Research on All Salmonids Program (cGRASP). Address correspondence to Kieran ODoherty, Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada, N1G 2W1. E-mail: kieran.odoherty@uoguelph.ca

S. Nep and K. ODoherty

The issue of food labeling for transgenic salmon has recently gained prominence since the announcement in the United States that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might approve genetically modified (GM) salmon for human consumption (Voosen 2010).1 This is noteworthy not least because, in spite of the large and ever-increasing number of genetically modified foods on supermarket shelves, to date no GM animals have been approved for human consumption (Aerni 2004). The prospect of GM salmon becoming commercially available is particularly relevant in parts of Canada owing to the economic and cultural significance of salmon in these regions. Indeed, although the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO Canada) notes that there are no genetically engineered fish allowed for commercial use or release in Canada, the department is carrying out risk-assessment research on genetically engineered salmon in contained, land-based facilities (DFO Canada 2009). Given the strong possibility of GM salmon becoming approved in at least some jurisdictions, the salience of the question of food labeling is evident. Academic and policy discussions on GM food labeling polarize around positions of voluntary labeling, mandatory labeling of either GM or non-GM foods, and no labeling at all. While the debate is often based on theoretical and normative arguments, it is important to note that it also occurs in the context of empirical studies pointing to continued and widespread public resistance to GM products in many jurisdictions, which, in turn, is often associated with a public call of the mandatory labeling of GM foods (e.g., Cormick 2007; Department for Trade and Industry [DTI] 2003; Food Standards Agency [FSA] 2003; Radas et al. 2008; Rigby et al. 2004). However, little work has been conducted on involving publics in debates about GM food labeling more directly. Moreover, paternalistic policy responses have (incorrectly, we argue) cited a lack of knowledge as the reason for public resistance to GM foods and insistence on mandatory labeling. Much empirical work on attitudes toward GM foods and their labeling has focused on measurement of general (i.e., largely uninformed) public sentiment, and thus may not provide the best support for countering such policy responses. The purpose of this article is to contribute informed public opinion to academic and policy debates on GM food labeling, with a particular focus on the hypothetical case of GM salmon. We draw on data from a deliberative public forum of 25 British Columbians who met over two weekends in 2008 to discuss the social and ethical implications of salmon genomics. One of the conclusions of this public forum was a strong call for the mandatory labeling of GM salmon, should this product become available commercially. In this article we present a qualitative analysis of the discussions of the forum leading up to this conclusion. It is important to note that our purpose is not to predict consumer behavior should GM salmon become available in grocery stores; nor is it to provide a snap shot of public opinion toward GM salmon. Rather, our aim is to elucidate the values underlying public calls of labeling of GM foods that have been documented elsewhere (e.g., Hallman et al. 2003; Miles et al. 2005; Radas et al. 2008), and to gain a deeper understanding of the reasoning underlying and substantiating this call for labeling. We situate our analysis of these discussions in the wider debate on labeling of GM foods and conclude by examining some implications for policy. A secondary aim is to illustrate a viable mechanism for developing meaningful and informed public input on the issue. Our analysis does not seek to understand individuals purchasing behavior as the outcome of latent variables such as locus of control, or perceived risks and benefits. Our purpose, rather, is to illustrate an

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Public Deliberation and Labeling of GM Salmon

approach through which citizens can be involved in policy decisions in more direct and meaningful ways. In contrast to reporting top of the head responses typically documented in survey studies, we present here an analysis of the discourse of an informed deliberative lay public. In line with arguments by Frewer et al. (2004), therefore, our purpose is to contribute to the development of new methods to integrate public values in processes of technology implementation.

Current Regulation of GM Foods in Canada


In Canada, novel foods are subjected to a food safety and nutrition assessment, as required under Division 28 of Part B of the Food and Drugs Regulations. GM foods, including animals produced through biotechnology, fall under this category of novel foods. The assessment focuses on differences between the GM food and its historically safe non-GM conventional counterpart, and determines whether or not the product is equivalent in terms of nutrition and safety (Health Canada 2009). If the GM product is assessed as being substantially equivalent, it could be approved for sale in Canada. As long as a product poses no known health risk (e.g., potential for causing an allergic reaction) or has not undergone a change in nutrient value, the decision to label that particular product as genetically engineered is strictly voluntary (Library of Parliament 1999). Accordingly, any GM food that is deemed to be substantially equivalent to conventional food alternatives does not require labeling.

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Labeling GM Foods and Consumer Choice


Arguments both for and against the labeling of GM foods generally center on concepts of consumer choice, autonomy, and empowerment. Opposing mandatory ` labeling of GM foods, Carter and Gruere (2003) claim that mandatory labels fail in providing consumer autonomy. They argue that mandatory labels impede consumer choice since some producers may then avoid using GM ingredients, thus eliminating the choice of purchasing GM foods for some. Smyth and Phillips (2003) argue that the cost of labeling is likely to be passed on to taxpayers and consumers and that consumers do not derive enough value from the added information to justify this cost. Further, they argue that many consumers do not understand the terms GM-free or Contains GM when used in product labels. Others further claim that arguments in favor of labeling GM foods have relied on ambiguous or false concepts of safety, naturalness, and normalcy. Hansen (2004), for instance, argues that (1) if GM foods were unsafe, they should not be sold or consumed at all and this is no longer a question of labeling; (2) concepts of naturalness depend on a false dichotomy between technology and nature; and (3) concepts of normalcy rely on an ambiguous understanding of what is normal. In contrast, those favoring mandatory labeling argue that labels provide information that is essential for consumer empowerment. Specifically, labels allow consumers to avoid products made using ingredients or techniques that they do not wish to ` consume. Streiffer and Rubel (2003) challenge Carter and Gruere (discussed earlier), claiming that their argument against mandatory labeling ignores the difference between consumer choice and consumer autonomy. Streiffer and Rubel argue that an agent acts autonomously choosing an action on the basis of the agents values; however, this does not require that the agent have multiple options from which to

S. Nep and K. ODoherty

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choose. Further, if disclosing facts results in certain products being discontinued, the authors argue that this removal may be an unfortunate limitation on informed choice but would not constitute a violation of anyones autonomy (Streiffer and Rubel 2003, 141). As indicated earlier, Canada, along with other jurisdictions such as the United States, Argentina, and Hong Kong, has developed a voluntary standard for the labeling of GM foods (Phillips and McNeill 2000). This position is based largely on arguments that if the labeling is voluntary, consumers who choose to buy non-GM products will pay the full segregation and testing costs. In contrast, under mandatory labeling the costs would be paid partly by taxpayers and partly by GM ` producers (Carter and Gruere 2003).

Public Opinion and Deliberation on GM Food Labeling


Some have sought to gain insight into public attitudes toward GM foods through surveys, often demonstrating that people are not comfortable with GM (e.g., Ahmad et al. 2010; Burton et al. 2001; Gaskell et al. 2000; Hall and Moran 2006; Radas et al. 2008). Owing to the controversial nature of the issue of labeling of GM foods, we agree that a resolution must take into account the input of a range of perspectives within the citizenry. However, both the ways in which such input should be sought and how public input should be incorporated into policy are not obvious. A particular problem with the use of surveys or other tools that aim at measurement of public opinion is that on complex subjects such as labeling of GM foods, public opinion is relatively uninformed. A framework that has been described as a particularly useful mechanism for translating public values around science and natural resources into policy is that of deliberative democracy (Parkins and Mitchell 2005; Rowe and Frewer 2005; Wagenet and Pfeffer 2007). In deliberative democratic forums, citizens are given the opportunity to learn about a topic, engage others in debate about the issues, and then come to collective decisions on appropriate policy. Deliberative methods therefore have certain advantages over traditional social scientific methods such as surveys and focus groups in that they (1) allow participants to become more informed and be exposed to a wide range of perspectives, (2) guide participants toward collective positions as opposed to aggregation of independent opinions, and (3) thereby may offer a more direct avenue of involving citizens in policy debates. The final conclusions of a deliberative forum thus reflect the informed and considered positions of a lay public, rather than top of the head responses. The objective is to increase the likelihood that applications are implemented in useful and socially appropriate ways, and such approaches have been used in various engagements on topics of biotechnology (Burgess et al. 2008; Einsiedel 2002b; Qin and Brown 2006). In November 2008 researchers at the Centre for Applied Ethics at the University of British Columbia conducted a deliberative public engagement that sought to gauge the opinions, values, and concerns of British Columbia citizenry on the social and ethical implications of salmon genomics research and applications (ODoherty et al. 2010). On the west coast of Canada and the United States, debates around salmon are highly political and often polarized owing to the cultural and economic significance of salmon in the region. Conducting a deliberative public engagement was deemed important to foster constructive public dialogue. These discussions culminated in several recommendations, one of which was for the mandatory labeling of GM salmon

Public Deliberation and Labeling of GM Salmon

(should this become available).2 The public call for mandatory labeling of a GM product is not novel. What is novel, though, is the ability to draw on the deliberations of an informed lay public to understand the social interests and values underlying this call for labeling. Importantly, the values expressed by participants in this forum occurred in the context of consideration of competing interests (e.g., fisheries; aquaculture; First Nations rights) and detailed background information. In the following, we provide a qualitative analysis of those aspects of the deliberation that pertain specifically to the forums final recommendation for the mandatory labeling of GM salmon.

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Methods
While it is not feasible for a small sample to be statistically representative, it is possible for a sufficiently diverse sample to be unbiased and add a legitimate lay public voice to academic and policy debate on an issue (Goodin and Dryzek 2006; Longstaff and Burgess 2010). The primary aim of recruitment was to obtain a sample of deliberants maximizing representation of diversity of values and life experiences in the province of British Columbia. To achieve this, a sample of 25 British Columbians was random-digit dialed to fill demographic stratification roughly proportionate to the population of British Columbia. Participants were recruited based on the BC Statistic=Municipal Population Estimates3 and the 2001 Canadian Census data for occupation, sex, religion, and ethnicity. Initial recruitment oversampled to 32 participants to account for attrition; 26 participants completed the first weekend, and 25 both weekends (see Table 1 for participant demographics). Participants received CA$100 for each day of attendance. As Table 1 illustrates, good diversity was achieved across gender, religion, region, and ethnicity. Although reasonable diversity was also achieved across age and occupation, the absence of individuals working in retail or business services is noticeable, as is the presence of only one participant under age 35 years. These limitations are a result of unbalanced attrition from the initial 32 participants to the final sample of 25. While the overall diversity of the sample provides confidence that there was no obvious bias, the underrepresentation of these groups should be borne in mind when interpreting the results. A key element in the deliberation design involves providing participants with sufficient information to be able to engage in informed discussions. This requires ensuring that the information provided is balanced, does not bias the deliberation, and is representative of the diversity of views available on the topic. Participants were provided with information through a number of avenues, including:
. . . . . .

A booklet containing background and contextual information (available at www.salmongenetalk.com). An annotated bibliography of relevant papers from the peer-reviewed literature and government documents. Presentations from five speakers who were either experts or stakeholders on issues relating to the topic. An annotated collection of media articles. A model that was used as an educational aid to provide a tangible referent for the concepts explored in the deliberation. A website that allowed participants to interact with each other and the research team.

S. Nep and K. ODoherty Table 1. Participant demographics Gender Region Age Female Male Greater Vancouver Rural BC <20 2024 2529 3034 3539 4044 4549 5054 5559 6064 >65 Chinese South Asian Aboriginal Nonminority Not working Aquaculture Construction Manufacturing Wholesale trade Retail trade Finance and real estate Health care and social services Educational services Business services Other Catholic Protestant Christian, other Sikh Other religious affiliation No religion 12 13 14 11 1 0 0 0 2 5 5 2 2 4 4 2 2 3 18 6 3 2 1 1 0 1 2 3 0 6 2 3 5 1 2 12

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Ethnicity

Occupation

Religion

The deliberation was staged over two noncontiguous weekends in November 2008. The first day was geared to informing and orienting participants with speaker presentations and introducing participants to the practice of deliberation; days two, three, and four were directed solely toward providing participants with a forum to discuss their views on any aspects of salmon genomics. From the second day, participants were split into three small groups and deliberations were conducted in both large and small groups. A professional moderator facilitated the large-group discussions, while three members of the research team facilitated the small-group discussions.

Public Deliberation and Labeling of GM Salmon

To avoid (unduly) framing the issues to be discussed from the start, participants were not presented with particular questions. Rather, participants were given two tasks (one for each weekend of deliberation) sufficiently broad to allow participants to direct discussion to those issues they deemed most important. In other words, the salience of particular issues was not imposed by the research team, but rather was allowed to emerge inductively through the process of deliberation and participants consideration of a broad range of relevant literature. On the first weekend, participants in each small group began to develop a deeper understanding of the issues and each others perspectives by working on the first task of listing their hopes and concerns around the sequencing of the salmon genome. Over several sessions, each group collectively developed a list of all issues they deemed most important in terms of both the benefits of salmon genomics research and its applications, as well as potential negative consequences. Each small group then presented to the large group. In the period between the two weekends participants were encouraged to explore issues further with each other (via the private website) and with friends and family. During the second weekend participants worked on the second task, which was to deliberate the question Should the salmon genome be sequenced? Why or why not? and to present conditions as to why or why not. Participants were asked to consider not only the project of sequencing itself, but also potential applications associated with the sequencing, and to present a series of policy recommendations on the issues they had discussed. The facilitators prepared reports based on the presentations of each of the three groups which were subsequently ratified by participants via mail and email. A final post-event interview was conducted with each participant via telephone. The study also involved a quantitative survey before and after the deliberation to measure opinion changes that might have occurred as a result of the deliberation. Analysis of the survey is available in ODoherty et al. (2010) and MacKenzie and ODoherty (2011). Individual deliberants are actively encouraged to reconsider their positions in light of new information and other perspectives, and may consequently change their opinions. Analyses therefore need to differentiate between individual opinions expressed in discussion, themes emerging from analyses of the entire deliberation, and collective statements ratified by the group. The latter can be termed deliberative outputs (ODoherty and Burgess 2009) or collective conclusions of deliberation. In contrast to post hoc analyses conducted on deliberation transcripts, deliberative outputs are characterized by distinctly political (rather than analytical) legitimacy because they represent collective positions arrived at through democratic deliberation. However, additional analysis of deliberation transcripts can provide important insights and reveal subtleties such as value trade-offs that were considered by participants, rejected positions, and implicit values underlying certain positions. Here we focus on one particular conclusion of the forum, the mandatory labeling of GM salmon, and provide a detailed qualitative analysis of deliberation transcripts relevant to this issue. All discussions were recorded, transcribed, and coded using ATLAS.ti 5.2 software. Coding was conducted by four members of the research team who were also present at the deliberative event. A preliminary code list was prepared based on discussion with the entire research team and amended as necessary as the coders proceeded to work through all transcripts to capture all emergent themes. To ensure consistency in the interpretation of coding categories, all transcripts were recoded

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S. Nep and K. ODoherty

by the fourth member of the coding team. All discrepancies in coding were resolved through discussion involving the four members of the coding team (including the author SN). Pseudonyms are used to protect the confidentiality of participants.

Results and Analysis


In considering potential applications of the sequencing of a salmon genome, participants discussed a large number of issues. Ultimately, the group expressed support for salmon genomics research and the project of sequencing the salmon genome. The group also collectively developed conclusions pertaining to the following issues:

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1. Regulation of applications derived from salmon genomics research. 2. The need for international treaties regarding the use of genomic technologies in the context of salmon. 3. The need for greater public awareness and education about many of the issues relating to the sequencing of the salmon genome. 4. The labeling of GM salmon, should these become available commercially. While not related to the sequencing project directly, it was recognized that GM salmon had been created, that efforts were underway to bring them to market, and that a full genome sequence of salmon might facilitate further research and commercialization of GM salmon. In considering GM salmon, participants did not focus on any particular purpose or reason why the fish might be genetically modified, but rather on the general principle of creating transgenic animals. The analysis presented here focuses on the discussions relating to the conclusion pertaining the labeling of GM salmon (for other aspects of the study see ODoherty et al. 2010). In this context, participants called for the labeling of GM salmon should these products be offered commercially. In addition to this explicitly stated collective conclusion, analysis of the transcripts of participants discussions leading up to this conclusion reveals nuanced reasoning underlying this position. In particular, it is evident that rather than being viewed as an end in itself, labeling is viewed by these members of the public as a symbolic and practical mechanism by which a complex set of values, hopes, and concerns may be operationalized. Next, we offer an analysis of four major themes associated with participants call for the labeling of hypothetical GM salmon. The four themes discussed are: (1) call for labeling as an expression of distrust, (2) labeling and control, (3) call for labeling as a request for transparency, and (4) labeling to gain acceptance of GM foods.

Call for Labeling as an Expression of Distrust During deliberations, participants expressed persistent distrust in the approach to GM foods by the government, researchers, and biotechnology companies. Given this, participants called for labeling as a minimum requirement to allow consumers to exert a degree of choice on whether to consume GM products. Several participants noted the reluctance of the Canadian government to label GM foods, despite public demand, which served to further fuel expressions of distrust. The governments refusal to implement mandatory labeling was also linked to participants belief that other forms of research would continue to receive governmental support despite public disapproval. In the words of one participant (Heidi), since people

Public Deliberation and Labeling of GM Salmon

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want genetically modified food labeled and it still hasnt happened, theres an inevitability that this type of research will go on. Participants also expressed distrust in the biotechnology industry. In particular, the reluctance of biotechnology companies to label GM foods was associated with a perceived vested interest in maximizing profits. This sentiment was expressed by participants in a number of instances (e.g., the more people are aware, the less they will buy it [Vicki]; its the people who want to sell to us that dont want [labels] because they are afraid that we might actually read the labels [George]). Participants observations in this regard are supported in the academic literature in that food producers have been reported to be hesitant to label GM food because of ` strong consumer opposition to GM foods (Carter and Gruere 2003). In summary, participants expressed strong distrust in current governance of GM foods. The perceived reluctance of private companies and authorities in labeling of GM products serve to fuel this distrust, and was associated with the protection of vested interests. Labeling and Control Implicit in participants call for labeling as an expression of distrust is a sense of loss of control in individuals having the ability to monitor the nature of their sustenance. This sentiment was expressed explicitly in a number of discussions around labeling. For instance, one participant stated that we feel we dont have control . . . because people want genetically modified foods labeled and it still hasnt happened. This participant later elaborated that this absence of labels creates an assumption that the public does not care about GM labels: In North America we eat genetically modified food all the time and its not labeled and it makes it sound like we dont worry about it because its not labeled. . . . People said they want labeling. They didnt have it and now the assumption is that we dont care about its label. (Kathleen) This excerpt illustrates a fairly complex network of belief attributions evident among the members of this public forum: Authorities are charged with ignoring public calls for labeling and, now that GM foods are used widely without labeling in place, are charged with assuming that the public does not care about labels all that much anyway. Participants strongly resisted this perceived assumption and suggested that the lack of GM labeling was reflective of bad governance. Notably, the demand for labels was also described by participants as the publics only avenue of action when it came to controlling their food sources (Kathleen). The feeling of loss of control that participants expressed was not restricted to the idea of consuming GM food. Participants repeatedly expressed a sense of loss of control in the overall pace and nature of biotechnological advancements, as exemplified by the scope of salmon genomic research. Often, this sense of loss of control manifested in a kind of cynicism, which in some cases was directed toward charging the deliberative process as being too late. Some participants expressed that since the research was already being conducted and would go ahead despite the publics opinion, the question of whether or not to sequence the genome was irrelevant or a moot point (Doug). However, a majority of participants expressed the opposite, namely, that the process of deliberation provided an important avenue for gaining

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some control in the policy formation process. These participants articulated a feeling of empowerment through knowing that they were currently engaging in a process for which the results would be reported in the professional literature. The ability to voice the reasoning behind their call for mandatory labeling of GM foods was seen as an important part in this process of regaining and exercising control. Call for Labeling as a Request for Transparency Probably the most dominant theme to emerge from participants discussions about labeling was that this was seen as symbolic of transparency in the production and governance of biotechnology. Several participants discussed the role of labels in ensuring transparency for consumers making purchasing decisions. Participants expressed that labels would give consumers the same type of protection that they have in relation to pharmaceutical drugs since they have to label pharmaceuticals (George). Several participants indicated that labels provided the ability to make right choices about what they were eating: All team members in my group agree that a law should be established to force the manufacturing company to label food products clearly and truly so customers will know that salmon is either farmed, wild, or genomically modified. So . . . the products which contain GM fish . . . must be labeled. Customers can use the information on the label to make the right choice while shopping. (Christopher) The findings from this study also suggest that consumers currently buy GM foods contrary to their preferences and without their knowledge. Significantly, some participants expressed that if they had known that certain foods they had purchased in the past were GM, then they would say no (in stark contrast to speculation by Hansen 2004; see also the later subsection, Nuance of Argument Around Calls for Labeling). One participant, in particular, explained: I came into this whole forum knowing absolutely zilch about all of this. And when theyin reading this booklet here, it says it has 80 genetically modified foods out there already. I probablyate that. If I had known that, if it was labeled, then I would say no. (Lisa) It is important to note that it is unclear whether these assertions would translate into actual purchasing behavior (some studies suggest that preference to buy non-GM content can be counterbalanced by the price of a product; see, e.g., Castle 2007). However, regardless of whether individuals are willing to pay a premium for non-GM foods, these concerns suggest that transparency in this regard would help to facilitate consumer choice. Labeling to Gain Acceptance of GM Foods In the themes discussed earlier, calls for labeling were generally associated with negative public sentiment toward GM foods. However, labels were not always viewed by participants as a way of helping them avoid GM foods. In fact, some participants speculated that labeling might actually foster the acceptance of GM foods.

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Public Deliberation and Labeling of GM Salmon One participant expressed this view explicitly: If theres transparency, the public feels that, you know, nothings hidden from us, we know what were eating, what were being offered for sale, and they will be far more acceptable. (Roberta)

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Note that here again a participant is concerned with transparency. However, in this context, some participants articulated that labeling would help encourage confidence in and acceptance of GM food products. Another participant similarly stated that labels could serve to educate the public, and as a result maybe that mad desire to get away from GM foods . . . will lessen (James). In addition, participants speculated that the absence of labels would further propagate fear and distrust in biotechnology companies and GM foods. Public education, together with transparent labeling, was thought to potentially dispel fear (Larry). The absence of labels was thus indicative to participants of something being hidden from the public. In addition to seeing labeling as a way of increasing transparency, participants indicated that labeling could potentially increase acceptance of GM foods. This finding is consistent with Qin and Brown (2006), who argue that incorporating viewpoints on certain and uncertain consequences of GM foods will help to increase perceptions of source trustworthiness in the public. Similarly, Frewer et al. (2004) argue that consumer acceptance depends on broad sociopolitical factors such as public trust in regulatory institutions and the information about risk management that is provided by these institutions. Importantly, this finding is also consistent with studies that suggest that availability of information plays an important role in public perceptions of GM foods (e.g., Knight et al. 2007; Rousu et al. 2007). Nuance of Public Discourse around Calls for Labeling The purpose of the preceding analysis was to provide an account of the reasoning and value systems underlying public calls for the labeling of GM foods. Consistent with criticisms of deficit models of public understandings of science, participants in this study articulated cohesive arguments for the mandatory labeling of GM foods (Wynne 1993). Participants presented several other arguments that, while not captured in the themes just described, are relevant to consider in the context of public opinions on GM food labeling. First, proponents of GM foods often argue that there is no fundamental difference between modern techniques of genetic modification and traditional techniques involving selective breeding that have been practiced for centuries or longer. Participants in our study exhibited a high degree of sophistication in dealing with this issue. For example, while one participant argued that weve been genetically modifying things forever, and selective breeding is a fancy term for GM, another participant differentiated between the two based on the pace at which changes occur and have an effect on the environment and other species: When you do breeding, the changes happen slowly over time, and you can see effects often asyou know, it takes generations of that animal to see larger effects. Where when you do genetic modification you can actually have a large effect in one generation. (Kathleen)

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This distinction has a foundation in the scientific literature. For example, Palumbi (2001) notes that both artificial selection and genetic manipulation are a kind of evolutionary change, but genetic manipulation differs from artificial selection because it can be fastinserting a trait never-before possessed by a plant almost instantly. This can result in very different evolutionary processes and potentially very different outcomes (176, 180). Second, analysis of the data from this public deliberation also provides empirical evidence contrary to some of the arguments raised by experts against the mandatory labeling of GM foods. In particular, Hansens (2004) stance against the mandatory labeling of GM foods, discussed earlier, rests largely on her argument about false consciousness. Hansen disputes the claim that consumers who buy GM foods have an interest in knowing whether or not products contain GM foods through labeling (because if they knew that the foods were GM, they would change their purchasing patterns). Hansen does not accept this claim, arguing that in the absence of positive evidence in favor of the view, its hard to see why we should accept it. Our results provide empirical evidence that Hansens thesis is incorrect. There is indeed evidence that some participants in our study object to buying GM foods and are unhappy about having previously purchased GM foods owing to them not being labeled as such (see earlier description).

Discussion
Deliberative methods provide an important tool for involving citizens in policy debates. However, conducting public deliberation is expensive, time-consuming, and involves a relatively small number of participants. Advantages and disadvantages relative to other methods therefore need to be examined and their use justified for each particular case. The primary value of public deliberation to policy makers is that it can provide input from an informed and diverse public. Public deliberation can therefore be used to develop social norms for issues involving complex and controversial science and technology, while taking into account diverse perspectives and interests. For obvious reasons, the conclusions of a public deliberation cannot be considered representative of opinions of the wider population. Participants in the deliberation have been exposed to in-depth discussion about the issues, which is not typical of the wider population. However, the deliberative conclusions can be considered to have political legitimacy, given that participants developed collective positions that transcend their individual opinions. As such, public deliberations may be better utilized by policymakers when requiring informed democratic input for controversial decisions, as opposed to gauging public sentiment on an issue or predicting consumer responses (for these latter purposes, surveys and focus groups are arguably better suited). In the context of academic and policy debate on GM food labeling, our study complements and affirms other empirical studies based on focus groups and survey methods. In line with these studies (e.g., Radas et al. 2008; Teisl et al. 2003), our study suggests that public calls for labeling of GM foods implicate important public values. Importantly, our study shows that far from being associated with a lack of knowledge, increased engagement with the issue of GM food labeling (at least in the case of salmon) is associated with an even stronger call for labeling. Similar to studies by Costa-Font and Gil (2009) and Poortinga and Pidgeon (2005), we see an important role of trust in consumer attitudes regarding the acceptability of GM foods.

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Our participants discussions around labeling revealed a high degree of distrust concerning the governance of genetic engineering by government and biotechnology companies. These findings are consistent with the argument that accountability and trust in institutions play a significant role in consumer reactions to biotechnology and are better predictors than the consumers level of knowledge (Irani et al. 2002; Priest 2001). The findings also support Einsiedels (2002a) argument that labeling is symbolic of public confidence and trust in institutions. The particular view expressed by some participants that labels might help consumers to accept GM foods is also an important finding. It is consistent with Bernauer (2003), who argues that labeling might help to promote acceptance of GM foods. Other qualitative studies relating to attitudes around labeling raise issues of trust. Some suggest that labels help to build consumer trust (Barling et al. 1999; Coveney 2008). Others suggest that labels do little to enhance consumer trust, and trusting labels is simply indicative of an already present institutional trust (Paterson et al. 2001; Brom 2000; Grove-White et al. 1997; Roe and Teisl 2007). Our study suggests that irrespective of the ability of labels to build trust, in the context of the present study the absence of labels is symbolic of a lack of transparency and consumer control. Given a context in which there is low public confidence in authorities, researchers, and commercial institutions acting in the public interest, our analysis suggests that policy on GM foods needs to focus on building public trust, transparency, and locating some degree of control with consumers. Although mandatory labeling may not be the only or even best mechanism for satisfying these needs, it currently appears to hold important symbolic value in public discourse for placating distrust in the governance of GM foods. Our analysis suggests that irrespective of whether Canada adopts a mandatory labeling policy, it will be important to consider other mechanisms for addressing the public concerns outlined in our analysis. An important interpretation of our results is thus that calls for labeling and resistance to GM foods are not primarily attributable to public ignorance. In line with Wynnes (2006) arguments, in order to be more accepting of GM technologies, members of the public will need to be assured that the institutions developing and regulating GM foods are worthy of their trust. The mechanisms whereby this trust can be earned are clearly identified by the participants in our study: increased transparency and increased control for consumers. That there is a widespread call by publics for labeling of GM foods is known and therefore not a surprising finding of our study. What our analysis highlights, however, is the connection between this call for labeling and distrust in the governance of GM foods in particular and, arguably, biotechnology more generally. While we cannot know whether the introduction of mandatory labeling for GM salmon or other GM products would help to rebuild some of this trust, we can argue with some confidence that public resistance to GM products could be better addressed by developing more transparency and trustworthy governance surrounding these technologies. Such governance mechanisms may involve mandatory labeling, though actual implementation of labeling policies will also need to take into consideration such factors as who is responsible for bearing this additional cost and who is responsible for ensuring transparency. Quite likely, however, labeling (mandatory or otherwise) will itself only be a small part of the development of trustworthy governance, which will also need to incorporate increased transparency and public discourse on such issues as the sustainability of farming practices utilizing GM fish, effects on conservation, and other aspects of food production.

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Notes
1. The AquAvantageTM salmon developed by Aqua Bounty Farms is genetically modified for accelerated growth. These fish do not actually grow larger than their unmodified counterparts, but they reach marketable size in about half the time. This is argued to increase profitability. These fish are also reportedly sterile to reduce the harm of escapes (Marden et al. 2006). 2. GM salmon is just one among a range of possible applications of salmon genomics research (others include salmon microarrays, brood stock analysis, fish health markers, or DNA vaccine development). However, in line with previous studies (Tansey and Burgess 2008), the issue of transgenic salmon emerged as disproportionately salient in public discussion. 3. http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/DATA/POP/pop/estspop.asp (accessed 18 February 2009).

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