566.2 Sustaining the bee gees in Lithuania: Exploring social controversies and media impact on public discourses concerning organic foods and GMOs in rural communities

Friday, August 3, 2012: 1:00 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Leonardas RINKEVICIUS , Social Sciences and Humanities, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania
This article examines recent developments and controversies in Lithuania around the two kinds of food-risk societal issues. On the one hand, it examines the discursive aspects and dominant story lines regarding the organic farming and food production in the quest for sustainable development. On the other hand, it contrasts these societal  responses vis-à-vis the attempts of international and local promulgators of GMOs to penetrate the agri-food sector in Lithuania. The research is based on the three-year project RINOVA (‘Public risk perceptions, communication and governance in the knowledge society’) coordinated by the author of this paper and carried out by the team of researchers in Lithuania on behalf of the Lithuanian National Research Fund. The findings of the paper are based on the quantitative (public opinion survey) data and qualitative (public discourse) studies stemming from the RINOVA project. Paper concludes by an illustrative case study of the bee keepers’ community in Lithuania where the two discourses, media impacts and the two fields of societal controversy meet, namely the seek for organic farming and the challenges // controversies of GMO-based farming  and food production. A theoretical discussion is further developed in the paper on the conflicting value orientations and social practices of the “global village” vis-à-vis “local village”. This theoretical elaboration is contextualized by simultaneous institutional pressures from the rather different societal domains – the globalizing businesses, the local civic cultures and the governance institutions which are politically increasingly becoming inter-twined by the national and supra-national policies as well as social actors. The role of mass media is analyzed in shaping the public discourse on GMOs and by contrast, concerning organic foods in Lithuania.