The application of biotechnology to food
and agriculture can bring not only potential
risks and benefits, as any technology can,
but also concerns about the human dimensions
associated with biotechnology. These include
both positive and negative impacts on stakeholders,
communities, economic and social institutions,
and societies in general. Areas include:
- Agriculture and food system issues.
- Market and consumer issues.
- Business issues, institutional issues.
- Social issues.
food system issues include the impact
of biotechnology on the organization, structure,
and behavior of the agricultural industry;
the co-existence of conventional, organic,
and biotechnology-oriented agriculture; the
capacity of the food system to segregate genetically
modified commodities and products for specific
markets; impacts on competition in world trade
in agricultural commodities; and the economic
impacts of establishing oversight, standards,
regulations, and public policies concerning
Market and consumer issues include
understanding the forces that shape consumer demand for or against
products of agricultural biotechnology; the needs, desires, and concerns
of consumers in domestic and international markets; the influence of
culture, advertising, product labeling, scientific information, and
recent news events on consumer decision-making about the use of biotechnology
products; and methods for most effectively increasing the understanding
on which public and private decisionmaking concerning biotechnology
Business issues include the impacts
of biotechnology on individual firms or groups of firms, firm-level
decisions about buying or selling biotechnology products and processes,
changes in business practices and alliances, and domestic and international
markets including markets in Third World countries.
Institutional issues include
the impact of biotechnology on universities, trade and professional
associations, and policy-making bodies; the impact of intellectual
property protection on academic research; the wider roles of public
research, education, and extension; mechanisms for funding research
and disseminating results; and the roles of local, state, federal,
and international governments and organizations.
Social issues include the needs
of various publics to secure meaningful information for involvement
in decisionmaking on development and use of agricultural biotechnology;
the role of civic engagement at the local, state, and national levels;
perceived and actual risks and benefits to consumers and other stakeholder
groups or society in general; environmental protection; research vandalism;
agro-terrorism; and impacts on Third World countries.
projects addressing the management of the social and economic
impacts of biotechnology.
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