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Contested framings and policy evolution: evolution of the GM biosafety policy-making process in Iran, 2006-2009

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posted on 2023-06-07, 16:00 authored by Ebrahim Souzanchi Kashani
Vigorous debates have taken place in many European countries, and between the EU and the USA, about regulatory policy regimes covering the assessment and approval of GM crops. In such countries the debates have, to a large extent, taken place in public arenas and with the active participation of broadcast and print media. In Iran, a very vigorous and hotly-contested policy debate concerning legislation covering GM crops took place between 2004 and 2009, but it was almost entirely confined within the Government with no public debate and minimal media coverage. From early 2006 to late 2008 a protracted dispute occurred between different parts of the Iranian regime, which was characterised by an apparent stalemate. In 2008-2009, conspicuous policy shifts occurred, which culminated in the passage of a Biosafety Law by the Iranian Parliament (or Majlis). This thesis describes, analyses and explains the policy-making process from 2006 to 2009. It explains firstly how and why a stalemate arose in the disputes between ministries and departments. It then explains how that impasse was overcome, and how a particular policy regime came to be adopted. The chosen analytical framework draws mainly on two bodies of literature, namely the regulation of technological risk, and the analysis of public policymaking. A task-specific analytical framework is developed which uses the concept of the ‘framing assumptions’, which underpin the particular positions taken by the diverse protagonists in the debate, to analyse the characteristics of the seemingly irresolvable dispute. The differences between those framing assumptions are used to provide an explanation of why the stalemate arose and remained unresolved for several years. The explanation of the eventual policy outcome takes account of those framing assumptions, but on their own they are not sufficient to explain the eventual policy decisions. To provide that explanation, considerations of the unequal division of political power between parts of the Iranian regime are required. The Iranian case study, despite some of its unique characteristics, can support several general conclusions about the dynamics of risk policy making, the conditions under which disputes can arise and those under which they may be resolved.


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