Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Genetically modified organisms in agriculture: social and economic implications

Davies, Ben and Richards, Caspian and Spash, Clive L. and Carter, Claudia (2004): Genetically modified organisms in agriculture: social and economic implications.


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This paper argues that whether genetic modification of crops is seen as radically different or simply a further step of ‘traditional’ breeding techniques affects the perception of the associated benefits and risks of their commercialisation and the wider context scrutinised to assess potential consequences. Current risk regulation and GM legislation is narrowly defined, and largely concerned with scientific evidence of harm to human health and the environment. This contrasts with the public disquiet and a greater concern for overarching issues such as institutional and power structures (and the way political decisions are made), the role of science in society and the social and economic impacts of new technologies in the UK and abroad. The paper shows how the debate over GM technology has been framed and reflects the broader tensions within society. First, broadly political factors are discussed, followed by economic considerations to show how socio-economic factors influence and are influenced by novel technologies. Finally, welfare impacts and issues relating to less industrially developed economies are considered.

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