Publication: Novel biotechnologies for eradicating wasps: seeking Māori studies students’ perspectives with Q method
Author(s): Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Alan King Hunt and Philip Lester
Aligned with the New Zealand government’s ‘Predator-Free 2050’ target for Aotearoa New Zealand, National Science Challenge: Our Biological Heritage supports research into five distinct ‘novel biotechnological controls’ of exotic wasps. A framing question within this project is which controls are considered ‘socially acceptable’ and thus suitable for further development to control and potentially eradicate introduced wasps? How can the public answer this question without first engaging with complex technologies? Can they develop and express an informed view that still reflects their ‘gut’ reactions and unique positions? To model and explore the views of an ‘informed public’, university students in Māori studies engaged in reflection, writing and mapping activities; choice and ranking exercises; Q Method; and focus group interviews. Amongst the interviewees, Q Method analysis distinguished three ‘factors’, describing unique viewpoints: those who see the potential of biotechnologies, those who are in doubt about them and those in a position of trust in scientists. Overall, the group see potential in new biotechnologies for wasps but are wary of political, economic and social decision-making mechanisms.