Why do people accept biotech in medicine but not GMO foods?


[Editor’s note: this article summarizes a paper (PAY WALL) published in the journal Annual Review of Resource Economics.]

In a paper─ The Political Economy of Biotechnology ─ Ron Herring of Cornell University and Robert Paarlberg of Harvard Kennedy School look for pushes and pulls in the material interests of advocates and opponents of these technologies … seek reasons in political structures, social behaviour and public notions of acceptable risk.

[P]ublic disapproval of genetic engineering of crop plants, despite important science academies supporting the technology, is hard to comprehend.

[T]here is no evidence of GE crops grown so far posing new risks to humans, animals or the environment.  The same public accepts drugs like insulin made with recombinant DNA technology. It discounts the risks thrown up during clinical trials. Its distrust of regulatory authorities charged with the approval of GE crops stands in contrast to its faith in medical regulators despite tragic errors: thalidomide approved for morning sickness caused birth defects in thousands of babies. What accounts for these differing standards?

Related article:  Greenpeace, activist groups call on tight regulation of new genetic engineering methods

Transnational environmental groups like Greenpeace have also been effective in stigmatizing GE crops as GMOs (genetically-modified organisms)

Environmentalists and private enterprise-hating leftists have also been able to paint GE technology as a conduit for corporate control of national agricultural systems.

In the case of GE crops, opponents have constructed uncertainty as risk.

Proving the absence of risk is impossible for science, the authors say.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Explaining the Political Economy of Biotechnology Which Makes Recombinant DNA Technology Acceptable in Medicine But Not Genetic Engineering of Plant Crops

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