The Role of Public Opinion in Shaping Trajectories of Agricultural Biotechnology
Science and technology are not autonomous entities and research trajectories are largely influenced by public opinion. The role of political decisions becomes especially evident in light of rapidly developing new breeding techniques (NBTs) and other genome editing methods for crop improvement. Decisions on how those new techniques should be regulated may not be based entirely on scientific rationale, and even if it is decided that crops produced by NBTs do not fall under the umbrella of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their commercialization is by no means certain at this time. If and when adopted regulations do not comply with the public's perception of risks, policy makers will find themselves under pressure to ban or restrict the use of the respective products.
TrendsA plant breeding company has developed the first crop produced by a gene editing technology that does not contain foreign genetic material.The EU faces the challenge of how to handle next-generation plant breeding techniques.In January 2015, a coalition of eight NGOs published an ‘open letter to the Commission on new genetic engineering methods’ calling for stringent regulations on new breeding techniques.Most recent regulations on the cultivation of GM crops in the EU were shaped by public pressure.
Journal: - Volume 34, Issue 7, July 2016, Pages 530–534