Ethics in the societal debate on genetically modified organisms: A (re)quest for sense and sensibility [Book Review]

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 21 (1):29-61 (2008)
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Via a historical reconstruction, this paper primarily demonstrates how the societal debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) gradually extended in terms of actors involved and concerns reflected. It is argued that the implementation of recombinant DNA technology out of the laboratory and into civil society entailed a “complex of concerns.” In this complex, distinctions between environmental, agricultural, socio-economic, and ethical issues proved to be blurred. This fueled the confusion between the wider debate on genetic modification and the risk assessment of transgenic crops in the European Union. In this paper, the lasting skeptical and/or ambivalent attitude of Europeans towards agro-food biotechnology is interpreted as signaling an ongoing social request – and even a quest – for an evaluation of biotechnology with Sense and Sensibility. In this (re)quest, a broader-than-scientific dimension is sought for that allows addressing the GMO debate in a more “sensible” way, whilst making “sense” of the different stances taken in it. Here, the restyling of the European regulatory frame on transgenic agro-food products and of science communication models are discussed and taken to be indicative of the (re)quest to move from a merely scientific evaluation and risk-based policy towards a socially more robust evaluation that takes the “non-scientific” concerns at stake in the GMO debate seriously



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World Risk Society.Ulrich Beck - 2009 - In Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis, Stig Andur Pedersen & Vincent F. Hendricks (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 495–499.
A Framework for the Ethical Analysis of Novel Foods: The Ethical Matrix.Mepham Ben - 2000 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 12 (2):165-176.

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