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Record information and status
Record ID
Date of creation
2012-05-03 17:41 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of last update
2012-05-07 18:46 UTC (andrew.bowers@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2012-05-07 18:46 UTC (andrew.bowers@cbd.int)

General Information
Genetically Modified (GM) Crops: Precautionary Science and Conflicts of Interests
Anne Ingeborg Myhr annd Terje Traavik
Author’s contact information
Anne Ingeborg Mhyr

Department of Microbiology and Virology
University of Tromsø and
Norwegian Institute of Gene Ecology
N-9037 Tromsø

E-mail: annem@fagmed.uit.no
  • English
Publication date
Summary, abstract or table of contents

Risk governance of GM plants and GM food products is presently subject to heated scientific and public controversies. Scientists and representatives of the biotechnology industry have dominated debates concerning safety issues. The public is suspicious with regard to the motives of scientists, companies, and political institutions involved. The dilemmas posed are nested, embracing value questions, scientific uncertainty, and contextual issues. The obvious lack of data and insufficient information concerning ecological effects call for application of the Precautionary Principle (PP). There are, however, divergent opinions among scientists about the relevance of putative hazards, definition of potential "adverse effects," and whether actions should be taken to prevent harm. The reliance on the concept of substantial equivalence in safety evaluation of GM food is equally controversial. Consequently, value assumptions embedded in a scientific framework may be a barrier for employment of the PP. One of our major conclusions is that precautionary GMP usage requires risk assessment criteria yet undeveloped, as well as broader and more long-term conceptions of risk, uncertainty, and ignorance. Conflicts of interest and public participation are other issues that need to be taken into consideration. GMP governance regimes that are justifiable from a precautionary and ethical point of view must transcend traditional scientific boundaries to include alternative scientific perspectives as well as public involvement.
Thematic areas
Background material to the “Guidance on risk assessment of living modified organisms”
Is this document is recommend as background material for the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms”
Section(s) of the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms” this background material is relevant
Additional Information
Type of resource
  • Article (journal / magazine / newspaper)
ISSN: 11877863
Publisher and its location
Kluwer Academic Publishers
The Netherlands
© 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers
22 Page PDF
Journal of Agricultural Environmental Ethics
Keywords and any other relevant information
KEY WORDS: conflicts of interests, genetically modified (GM) plants, GM food, the Precautionary Principle, public trust, scientific uncertainty, substantial equivalence

Citation: Journal of Agricultural Environmental Ethics 16, 227-247 (2003)