Community of Inquiry

A Community of Inquiry is a group of people who get together to inquire, discuss, debate and reflect on a specific issue. The #gmpotato Community of Inquiry is a place for people to grapple with the challenges and possibilities of genetically modified potatoes being introduced to Ireland. Join this community by posting to our forum or by commenting via facebook or twitter.

Ireland has recently got the go-ahead to do field trials of the Desiree potato, a variety that has been genetically modified for improved resistance to blight. Genetic modification (GM) is a controversial topic globally, receiving widespread media coverage. There have been scientific, economic, cultural and political challenges to the use of GM and other novel food development. These issues are amplified by Ireland’s reputation for ‘greenness’ and of course the potato has an iconic place in Irish history. It is loaded with historical and cultural significance – the Great Irish Famine was such a formative force in Irish history – and potato blight was one of the triggers.

So will new technologies help to control potato blight and improve yields for farmers in a sustainable way? Are there environmental or health implications to surrounding ecosystems, and indeed to humans? Is there a risk of a technological monopoly at the expense of local food production? These are the kinds of questions that the #gmpotato Community of Inquiry will look into.

To facilitate the inquiry, rather than give short summaries of the technology involved and the implications, we allow the ‘stakeholders’ to represent these positions themselves. We present, in videos and blog entries, the positions of various stakeholders in the debate to let you engage with the issues, ask questions, and form your own opinions.

The #gmpotato Community of Inquiry is an action research project being facilitated by the Celsius team at Dublin City University. Celsius is a DCU research cluster studying Cultural, Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Science. It is an interdisciplinary group bringing together researchers from a range of academic and professional backgrounds who analyse from various perspectives issues and implications of current developments in science, technology, environment and medicine. The Celsius team is neither critical nor supportive of GM foods. Our role is to facilitate debate, in a reasoned, respectful, deliberative manner, to research the many perspectives on the issue of the GM potato, and present them to policy-makers, such as the EPA and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.

Please join the debate.

Link to: Carlow Community of Inquiry verdict

Link to: Carlow Community of Inquiry preliminary report