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Animals in their Nature: A Case Study on Public Attitudes to Animals, Genetic Modification and ‘Nature’.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • Philip Macnaghten
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2004
Issue number3
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)533-551
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


This article seeks to engage with contemporary debates on the social and ethical dimensions of genetically modified (GM) animals. Dominant policy ethical approaches and frameworks are criticized for failing radically to accommodate some of the most important dimensions of concern. Drawing on primary empirical data emphasizing existing embodied relationships to animals, the article analyses how people express ethical concern over GM animals, including their sense of the continuities and discontinuities between GM animals and those determined by conventional selective breeding practices. The findings suggest that GM animals are likely to become an issue of public controversy, especially in the animal testing domain, due to the ways in which they symbolize and give voice to underlying tensions between ‘moral’and ‘instrumental’approaches to animals.The article concludes that people reject GM animals as ‘going against nature’, and that such concerns reflect wider unease about science, about technological modernity, and about hubris.