The Role of Scientific Excellence in the Changing Meaning of Maize in Mexico

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Making policy is giving a meaning to objects. This perspective on policy making gained importance in the 1990s with the emergence of discursive approaches. In this article, we use the concepts of Hajer’s discourse coalition approach to shed light on the evolving meaning of maize in Mexican society. Specifically, we trace a parallel between the evolution of biotechnology policy and discourses on maize over a 25-year period. The article argues that until recently, the protection against biotechnological manipulations enjoyed by maize has been bolstered by a discourse granting the plant a special status in the country’s history. However, the emergence of a new discourse grounded on the practice of scientific excellence is now challenging the old perspectives, and also finding support among government officials. As a result, the Mexican policies granting maize special protection is changing, and this policy change will likely trigger changes in the symbolic meaning of maize.

This content has been updated on 1 November 2019 at 15 h 30 min.