, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 53-61

Food irradiation in the news: The cultural clash of a postharvest technology

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Abstract

Food irradiation has been acommercially viable postharvest technology fornearly 50 years (the actual idea of usingionizing radiation to extend the shelf-life offoods is over a century old), yet it has beenused only occasionally and sporadically.Interviews with reporters and the sources theyused at a Louisiana newspaper and a Floridanewspaper uncovered three cultural spherespresent in the debate over this post harvesttechnology – food, science/technology, andjournalism. Each of these spheres were pointsof contention for reporters and sources, andthis has had an affect on the adoption of thetechnology among those involved in the foodindustry. Interviews with both reporters andthe individuals they relied on as sourceselucidate how different issues encompassedwithin different cultural spheres have beenlinked to this post harvest technology, andhave been used to help shape this debate. Thesecultural spheres offer various groups power tocontrol relations with reporters, though thatpower can be usurped by others, including thereporters themselves. Interviews with reportersand their sourses may help us understand howthe values attached to cultural spheres aremobilized by various groups to make sense of acontroversial topic, and how those groups gainentrance to public arenas and are then able tomaintain their presence.