February 1, 2018 - 12:00 am
The public, or: the non-existent average citizen is exposed to an enormous amount of information about food production daily. Agriculture, as the basis of food has changed rapidly in past decades and seen the introduction of many new technologies and practices. One the most contentious – and complex – technologies is genetic engineering of microbes, plants and animals. While numerous articles and reports have presented arguments for (benefits) and against (risks, costs) the technology, the context of all the other developments in food, agriculture and related sectors has usually been left out. This talk aims to provide this context as it is important for understanding the consequences of using or not using this technology. The talk will first provide an overview of genetic engineering applications in food and agriculture and a brief history of key events, before presenting the key developments that define the context of modern agriculture in which genetic engineering is embedded. Real and hypothetical cases will be discussed to illustrate the nature of the public controversy around this technology. The talk will conclude with an attempt to position genetic engineering in food and agriculture and provide an outlook on its future.
Post Presentation Links:
- Devex.com, the media platform for the global development community has just launched a four-part series about agricultural biotechnology. The first two parts are now available online, titled Are GMOs the key to global food security? (https://www.devex.com/news/are-gmos-the-key-to-global-food-security-91862) and Understanding the continued opposition to GMOs (https://www.devex.com/news/understanding-the-continued-opposition-to-gmos-91888). Investigating the role of GMOs in the international development context will shed light on recent developments that must not be missed in the public debate in developed countries.
- In Canada, Health Canada is in charge of authorizing genetically modified (GM) foods and other novel foods. Few people, however, know that Health Canada publishes the list of authorized products on this website (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/genetically-modified-foods-other-novel-foods/approved-products.html). It also provides links to four examples of the process of past safety assessments, as well as to the guidelines for the safety assessment of novel foods.