Finding a Precautionary Approach to Technological Developments ¿ lessons for the evaluation of GM crops

Stirling, Andy and Mayer, Sue (2002) Finding a Precautionary Approach to Technological Developments ¿ lessons for the evaluation of GM crops. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 15 (1). pp. 57-71. ISSN 1187-7863

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The introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops and foods into Europe has generated considerable controversy. Despite a risk assessment system that is intended to beprecautionary in nature, the decisions thathave been taken have not gathered publicconfidence. Key attributes of a precautionaryappraisal system include humility,completeness, assessing benefits andjustifications, making comparisons, allowingfor public participation, transparency,diversity, and the ``mapping'' of alternativeviews rather than the prescription of singlesolutions. A comparison of the European GMregulatory system with a different (moreprecautionary) approach using a ``multi-criteriamapping'' technique reveals a number ofproblems. These include the narrow framing ofthe established risk assessment system (therebyexcluding many issues of public concern), alack of public involvement in the process, anda failure to include appropriate comparisons ora diversity of options. Recent changes to theEuropean regulatory system only go part of theway to addressing these issues. Furthercontroversy may therefore be expected. However,practical ways of undertaking a morebroad-based precautionary approach are nowavailable (including the multi-criteria mappingmethod). These new approaches to technologyassessment offer a means for decision making toearn greater public confidence in this complexand difficult area.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Andrew Stirling
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:09
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2012 13:57
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