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The motivation and impact of organized public resistance against agricultural biotechnology - Zurich Open Repository and Archive


Aerni, Philipp (2014). The motivation and impact of organized public resistance against agricultural biotechnology. In: Smyth, Stuart J; Phillips, Peter W B; Castle, David. Handbook on Agriculture, Biotechnology and Development. Cheltenham Glos UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 256-276.

Abstract

Fifteen years of experience with the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) corps and countless national and international risk assessments of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) suggest that the risks related to this new technology are not any different from those already known in conventional agriculture. Despite these reassuring findings, public distrust toward GMOs has not decreased. Europe has even further tightened its de facto ban on genetic engineering in agriculture and most African countries continue to be reluctant to approve any GM corps for commercial cultivation, even if they may prove to be particularly beneficial for small-scale farmers. In order to understand this puzzling situation, we have to look at the global controversy on GMOs in the larger historical context. Professional pressure groups against GMOs have their roots in the environmental movement of the 1970s. At that time they criticized the negative environmental consequences of the Green Revolution. By assuming that the current Gene Revolution would largely represent a repetition of the mistakes of the Green Revolution, they were able to shape the risk narrative of genetic engineering in agriculture to a great extent. As an alternative to GMOs, they advocate the concept of ‘food sovereignty’ which envisions a type of agricultural system that helps countries to ensure food security without having to rely on agricultural trade and the use of new technologies in agriculture. In this chapter we argue that this kind of bipolar world view of good and evil agriculture is unlikely to be helpful in addressing the multiple sustainability challenges of the twenty-first century because it tends to burn rather that build bridges between the actors that would be most suitable to join forces in the fight against hunger and climate change.

Abstract

Fifteen years of experience with the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) corps and countless national and international risk assessments of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) suggest that the risks related to this new technology are not any different from those already known in conventional agriculture. Despite these reassuring findings, public distrust toward GMOs has not decreased. Europe has even further tightened its de facto ban on genetic engineering in agriculture and most African countries continue to be reluctant to approve any GM corps for commercial cultivation, even if they may prove to be particularly beneficial for small-scale farmers. In order to understand this puzzling situation, we have to look at the global controversy on GMOs in the larger historical context. Professional pressure groups against GMOs have their roots in the environmental movement of the 1970s. At that time they criticized the negative environmental consequences of the Green Revolution. By assuming that the current Gene Revolution would largely represent a repetition of the mistakes of the Green Revolution, they were able to shape the risk narrative of genetic engineering in agriculture to a great extent. As an alternative to GMOs, they advocate the concept of ‘food sovereignty’ which envisions a type of agricultural system that helps countries to ensure food security without having to rely on agricultural trade and the use of new technologies in agriculture. In this chapter we argue that this kind of bipolar world view of good and evil agriculture is unlikely to be helpful in addressing the multiple sustainability challenges of the twenty-first century because it tends to burn rather that build bridges between the actors that would be most suitable to join forces in the fight against hunger and climate change.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:28 March 2014
Deposited On:30 Apr 2014 12:37
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:48
Publisher:Edward Elgar Publishing
ISBN:9780857938343
Official URL:http://www.e-elgar.com/default.lasso
Related URLs:http://www.ccrs.uzh.ch (Author)

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