GM Foods: Potential Public Consultation and Participation Mechanisms
39 Pages Posted: 20 May 2009 Last revised: 28 Mar 2013
Date Written: 2003
One direct mechanism for improving public confidence in genetically modified foods may be to provide a greater role for the public in making policy decisions about such products. There are compelling normative and practical reasons for involving the public in such decisions. Yet, effective and meaningful public participation is made difficult by several factors, most importantly the lack of knowledge by most members of the public about scientific subjects, including biotechnology. A number of mechanisms for public participation exist, but most suffer from one of two principal limitations. Either they provide for only a small number of participants, usually representatives of interest groups, or they provide for widespread public participation but have no means for ensuring that the public input is informed. The recently completed national debate on GM foods in the United Kingdom illustrates many of the difficulties in providing for informed and effective public participation. New innovative approaches, such as on-line deliberations, are needed to achieve the goal of meaningful public participation in science-based policy decisions about genetically modified foods.
Keywords: Science, public participation, policy
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