Biotech Updates

Values Should be Considered in Discussions about GE Products

November 14, 2018

The role of genome editing in food and feed production has sparked debates and discussions among stakeholders. Risk-focused is how researcher Sarah Bechtold of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Germany describes these debates, saying that assessments are confined only within the scientific definition of risks, which are different from how the public defines risk, that is, hazards. Thus, in her article published in Frontiers in Plant Science, she discusses how "risk" is differently viewed between the scientific community and the general public and that debates that are beyond these risks is important in the context of genome editing in agriculture.

She elaborates that besides the nature of genome-edited products, aspects of cultivation and distribution and their impact on social values should also be considered and that ethical, social and sustainability-related aspects of genome editing are also crucial in public acceptance of the technology. In addition, the target goals and beneficiaries of scientific innovations widely vary, making it impossible to have a single conclusion and decision about such technologies as genome editing. Hence, she suggests that multiple options should be available, especially for consumers. She then asks where this "plurality" can be implemented and immediately answers the question by suggesting the use of the labeling system. Through this system, case-by-case decisions of consumers are allowed, that is, consumers that have not participated in public discussions about technologies such as genome editing can freely make a decision independent of the national general mandate. Nevertheless, scientific facts and advice are not to be neglected in this system. Instead, the public is free to make individual decisions while being educated about the products they are buying.

For more information, read the article in Frontiers in Plant Science