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The New Science of Food: Facing Up to Our Biotechnology Choices


The New Science of Food: Facing Up to Our Biotechnology Choices Prepared by Mark Edelman, Iowa State University David Patton, Ohio State University – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The New Science of Food: Facing Up to Our Biotechnology Choices

The New Science of Food Facing Up to Our
Biotechnology Choices
  • Prepared by
  • Mark Edelman, Iowa State University
  • David Patton, Ohio State University
  • A Farm Foundation Project

The Problem
  • Use of biotech tools such as genetic engineering
    in our food has increased dramatically during
  • The new tools of biotechnology transfer genetic
    material from one plant or animal to another to
    create new characteristics.
  • Many consumers have not been aware of
    biotechnology in the foods they eat.

The Biotech Food Opportunity
  • Better food
  • More nutritious
  • Increased farm productivity
  • Improved environment
  • Helps solve malnutrition

The Potential Uncertainty
  • Potential for human health impacts
  • Potential for environmental impacts
  • Potential contamination and costs for non-biotech
    foods producers
  • Long-term impacts difficult costly to assess

The Issues
  • Involve
  • Ethics
  • Individual to International Decisions
  • Views about humanitarianism
  • Economics
  • Quality of Life

The Challenge
  • To reconcile the promise uncertainty
  • To decide the incentives and approaches that
    should be used to shape the choices for
  • individuals buying food,
  • national food policy, and
  • the global food system.

1 Let Science Enterprise Guide Our Food
  • Encourage rapid development to
  • Feed the world, prevent diseases, make foods
    healthier, improve the environment, and protect
    our food crops from harmful pests.
  • Greater incentives for innovation
  • Regulatory approval based on science
  • by agency experts required tests and
    information supplied by biotech companies.
  • Product liability laws help assure safety.

Approach 1 What Can Be Done?
  • More research on biotech benefits for consumers
    with findings available to public.
  • Increase patent rights to reward innovation
    have patents accepted by other nations.
  • Adopt science-based food safety standards
  • Shorten approval for biotech products if no
    content difference to other approved foods.

Approach 1 Potential Benefits
  • Long-term health environment impacts?
  • Inadequate disclosure for some people.
  • Concentration of control.
  • Product liability may not stop contamination.
  • Better foods environment.
  • Free enterprise incentives rewards.
  • Unnecessary costs avoided.
  • No evidence of harm to health.

Approach 1 A Key Tradeoff
  • Increases opportunity to produce healthier foods,
    reduce world hunger, and fight human, animal and
    plant diseases and pests.
  • However, costs may increase for non-biotech foods
    and people may remain concerned about the health
    and environmental risks.

2 Safety First Protect Our Health
  • Mixing genes not mixed by nature.
  • Precautionary principles, extra tests
    independent review before approval.
  • If concern, do not proceed until the broader
    scientific community verifies.
  • Agencies have broader authority to monitor and
    take quick action to address any problems.

Approach 2 What can be done?
  • Require verification of public concerns and
    case-by-case testing before approval.
  • Require independent testing and review. Biotech
    firms seeking approval currently do most tests.
  • Establish independent biotech centers networks
    to improve monitoring and assess health,
    economic, and environmental impacts.
  • Alter patent laws for living matter to reduce
    barriers on sharing data, test verification,
    collaboration and future discovery.

Approach 2 Potential Benefits
  • Avoid health environ. impacts.
  • Better monitoring may prevent harm.
  • Access to patent info helps verify test new
  • Wider access to broader science.
  • Unnecessary rise in food prices.
  • Delays benefits, discoveries life may be lost.
  • Adds politics hurdles.
  • Ethical issues not resolved.

Approach 2 A Key Tradeoff
  • Extra precautions help ensure that all
    consequences are identified before potential harm
  • However, more regulation and monitoring may
    increase food costs reduce innovations.

3. Encourage Multiple Food Sources Full
  • Alternative foods--organic, natural, biotech, and
    conventional non-biotech foods.
  • Flexibility to keep future options open.
  • Avoid more concentrated control.
  • Biotech not likely to decline unless more
    evidence of harm.
  • Right to know what is in food methods.
  • Benefits and risks may vary by individual/ right
    to protect self apply preferences.

Approach 3 What can be done?
  • Incentives to encourage a wide variety of foods
    production systems.
  • Organize community food systems, networks, new
    ways of marketing food.
  • Disclosure labeling provides clearer choices.
    Identity preserved to strengthen monitoring and
    long-term research.
  • Strengthen laws to assure competition
    countervailing market power in food system.

Approach 3 Potential Benefits
  • More options flexibility for people system.
  • Disclosure helps track impacts.
  • Potentially more assurance.
  • Potentially more informed choice.
  • Flexibility only for those with ability to pay.
  • May not result in healthier, safer, less costly
  • Too much info is confusing.
  • Wasted if no food difference.

Approach 3 A Key Tradeoff
  • Alternatives and disclosure provide opportunity
    for individuals system to make more informed
  • However, too much information confuses people
    food costs may increase.

Let the Deliberation Begin.