Globalization and the Environment

Globalization and the Environment

Risk Assessment and the WTO

Edited by David Robertson and Aynsley Kellow

One of the unforeseen consequences of the WTO agreements has been controversy over risk. This volume explores aspects of risk with special reference to the WTO, where national instruments to reduce risk may conflict with international trade rules. The book is divided into sections dealing with: accounting for risk in trade agreements; risk and the WTO; managing risk in policy making; negotiating experience with risk; national risks and quarantine standards; and managing biotechnology.

Chapter 8: Public perceptions, risk communication and biotechnology

Christine R. Deane

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, international economics, environment, environmental economics


Christine R. Deane INTRODUCTION Modern biotechnology is a powerful, rapidly advancing technology, with the capacity to alter our way of life. It is viewed as an important tool, with the potential to improve living standards, but also as potentially hazardous and open to abuse. Individual attitudes to biotechnology are formed by complex interactions of socioeconomic factors, personal values, education and the attitudes of the society to which each individual belongs. Advances in biotechnology are accompanied by apprehension about safety, legal, ethical, social and economic concerns. This leads to debate among the ‘stakeholders’, and gives rise to emotive campaigning. As with any technology, biotechnology is neither inherently good nor bad, it simply provides a set of tools for the genetic manipulation of organisms. It is the application of this technology that determines whether it is beneficial or harmful. How biotechnology is applied to agriculture and medicine is a question for society as a whole. Biotechnology can help to solve many problems. For example, farmers encounter increasing demands from consumers for improved quality and to reduce chemical residues. There is also a demand to achieve more sustainable agriculture, and biotechnology can make a major contribution to this. The impact of the first genetically modified crops has already been observed. The US agrichemical industry has recorded reductions in herbicide sales following the introduction of transgenic herbicide tolerant crops. Medical applications of biotechnology have paved the way for treating many serious ailments. Diagnostic tests are being developed that can identify carriers of genes linked...

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