|Science & Environmental Health Network|
Science, Ethics and Action in the Public Interest
Agricultural and food systems technologies have rapidly changed over the past twenty years, perhaps most strikingly illustrated
by the large-scale commercialization of genetically engineered (GE) crops. However, our understanding of the interactions of
these new technologies within complex ecological and social systems, and our ability to predict or regulate impacts have not kept pace with the rate of technological change. In particular, the environmental and sustainable agriculture communities have
yet to formulate and implement a comprehensive, proactive research, trade, policy and marketplace agenda that addresses
both the scientific uncertainty and the potential adverse consequences of current agricultural practices.
In conjunction with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy SEHN is working to apply the Precautionary Principle to the development and adoption of agricultural technology and farming systems as well as to the regulation of food safety and quality, particularly in the context of international trade. Recognizing that effective and acceptable regulatory policies must be grounded in both appropriate research and meaningful public dialogue, we are also working to establish a public interest research agenda for agricultural and food systems within the US and in countries subject to US trade influences.
Genetically engineered crops are an important case study for implementing the Precautionary Principle and a public interest research agenda. Since the mid-1990s, commercial-scale planting of GE crops has risen from zero to over 70 million acres worldwide. However, despite the scale and pace of this new technology, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding the long-term hazards or benefits of GE crops. Mounting scientific evidence points to potentially serious harm to public health and the environment, and while further research is needed, the uncertainties, complexities and ethical dimensions of GE technology must be openly acknowledged and actively addressed. We believe the Precautionary Principle and public interest research can help to address these challenges and move us toward an agriculture that protects and promotes social and environmental values.
Food Fights: Canadian regulators are under pressure to face the uncertainties of genetically modified food.
In Defense of the Precautionary Principle
Applying The Precautionary Approach To Living Modified Organisms
The U.S. and the Precautionary Principle: An NGO Response in the Context of the Cartagena Protocol
The Risks of Scientific Revolutions
Genetic Engineering and the Precautionary Principle: Information for Extension
Applying the Precautionary Principle to Agricultural Biotechnology
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