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Biotechnology and Food. Personal Choices & Public Policies Thomas M. Zinnen Biotechnology Policy & Outreach Specialist University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension. Science Outreach. Sharing Science with Wisconsin Transforming How People View & Do Science Tours & Workshops on Campus

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biotechnology and food
Biotechnology and Food

Personal Choices & Public Policies

Thomas M. Zinnen

Biotechnology Policy & Outreach Specialist

University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension

science outreach
Science Outreach
  • Sharing Science with Wisconsin
  • Transforming How People View & Do Science
  • Tours & Workshops on Campus
  • Workshops Anywhere in Wisconsin
science outreach in public policy
Science Outreach in Public Policy
  • SEE Biotechnology: USDA Grant for Research and Extension in Social, Economic & Ethical Issues of Ag Biotech
  • 2000-2001 AAAS & Institute Of Food Technologists Congressional Science Fellow with House Committee on Ag
science outreach4
Science Outreach

Biotechnology and food is a profound issue because it affects so many basic parts of life: our bodies, our families, our environment, our view of what is right.

communicating with the public
Communicating with the public

A key part of ensuring that consumers can enjoy the benefits of new tools while minimizing risks and offering consumer choice.

distinctions
Distinctions
  • Public Education vs Public Relations
  • The Difference is in Keeping Score
  • Understanding vs Acceptance
  • Developing Science Savvy: Transforming How People View, Do & Use Science
cream into butter
Cream Into Butter
  • Hands on
  • Kinetic
  • Interactive
  • Concrete
  • Experiment
  • Proof
what is science
What is Science?
  • Is it something that only takes place in the Ivory Tower?
  • What are its roles in personal choices and public policies?
some other ways of knowing
Some Other Ways of Knowing
  • Reason
  • Logic
  • Math
  • Intuition
  • Instinct
  • Tradition
  • Authority
more ways of knowing
More Ways of Knowing
  • Empiricism
  • Experiment
  • Inference
  • History
  • Literature
  • Revelation
  • Prophecy
  • Mysticism
still more ways of knowing
Still More Ways of Knowing
  • Mythology
  • Experience
  • Superstition
  • Imagination
  • Naïve Theories
the powers limits of science
The powers & limits of science
  • Is science about what we know?
  • Or is science more about figuring out what we don’t know yet?
  • Going to see the solar eclipse in Cornwall
what is food
What is Food?
  • Name three foods that come from things that have not been alive.
the biology and nature of food
The Biology and Nature of Food
  • Nearly all our food comes from living things.
  • Plants, Animals, Microbes
  • From these, humans select or develop crops, livestock and cultures.
  • Traits such as taste, color, ease of preparing, yield, vigor, nutrition
traits genotype x environment
Traits = Genotype x Environment
  • Manipulate the Genes
  • Manipulate the Environment
  • Manipulate both the Genes and The Environment
  • This is Becoming a Fundamental Fork in the Road
breeders need sources of genetic variation
Breeders Need Sources of Genetic Variation
  • Gene Pool
  • Methods for Selecting Desirable Traits
gene flow and recombination in nature
Gene Flow and Recombination in Nature
  • Within a species
  • Between species
  • Transformation, Transduction, Conjugation, Cell Fusion, Viral Infection
  • DNA: The Carrier of Genes
from recombining dna to recombinant dna technology
From Recombining DNA to Recombinant DNA Technology
  • 1973 Cohen & Boyer
  • The Gene Pool Becomes a Gene Ocean
  • Any Organism on Earth is a Source for Genes for Use by Breeders
  • Recombinant DNA Technology is one of the most powerful tools ever invented.
human perceptions and understanding about genes
Human Perceptions and Understanding about Genes
  • Our understanding about how genes change and flow affects how humans convert knowledge into technology.
  • For example, the concept of “species” and of “species barrier”
  • For example, the developing idea of “genes in context”
hearing and speaking the difference
Hearing and Speaking the Difference
  • Science as Statements about Nature
  • Vs.
  • Science as Statements about Our Understanding of Nature
slide24
Selection
  • Breeding
  • Cloning
  • Grafting
  • Hybridization
  • Mutagenesis
slide25
Tissue Culture
  • Somaclonal Variation
  • Embryogenesis
  • Anther Culture
  • Cell Fusion
  • Transposons
  • Viral Infection
what is biotechnology
What Is Biotechnology?
  • Definitions Back to 1917
  • Can include selection, breeding, fermentation, tissue culture, genetic analysis, gene splicing, and DNA analysis (genomics)
what is biotechnology27
What is Biotechnology?
  • Gene Splicing or Recombinant DNA Technology
  • The Controversial Technology
  • Recombinant DNA Technology: From Gene Pool to Genetic Ocean
what is genomics
What is Genomics?
  • Finding the Sequence & Function of All the Genes of an Organism
  • Challenging How We View the Nature of Life and the Life of Nature.
  • Evolution
  • Vitalism: Essence vs Substance
  • A Shared Genetic Heritage
biotechnology is controversial
Biotechnology is Controversial
  • It touches on so many fundamentals
  • Our Bodies
  • Our Families
  • Our Land
  • Our Sense of Right and Wrong
genesis genie ingenuity
Genesis, Genie, Ingenuity
  • Understanding Concerns about Genetic Manipulation
  • The Joys of Etymology: Genie Genetique
slide32
Genesis
  • Genes
slide33
Genesis
  • Genes
  • Genie
slide34
Genesis
  • Genes
  • Genie
  • Genius
slide35
Genesis
  • Genes
  • Genie
  • Genius
  • Ingenious
slide36
Genesis Ingenuity
  • Genes
  • Genie
  • Genius
  • Ingenious
slide37
Genesis Ingenuity
  • Genes Ingenieur
  • Genie
  • Genius
  • Ingenious
slide38
Genesis Ingenuity
  • Genes Ingenieur
  • Genie Engineer
  • Genius
  • Ingenious
biotechnology is controversial39
Biotechnology is Controversial
  • Differences in Values
  • Versus
  • Differences in Conceptions and Misconceptions
a spectrum of values about food
A Spectrum of Values About Food
  • Wholesome
  • Holistic
  • Holy
wholesome vs loathsome
Wholesome vs. Loathsome
  • A wholesome food can be loathsome, based on tradition, habit, taste or religion.
ethics vs squeamics
Ethics vs Squeamics
  • Ethics--from ancient Greek ethos, meaning “character” or “custom”
  • Distinguishing between that which is unacceptable behavior and that which makes us uncomfortable
perception is reality44
Perception is Reality
  • Except, Often It is Not
  • Whose job is it to point this out?
  • Ask Galileo if it’s easy.
the challenge of perception is the potential for the feeling of deception
The Challenge of Perception is the Potential for The Feeling of Deception
  • How Consumers Think New Foods Are Developed, Tested and Regulated
  • How New Foods Are Actually Developed, Tested and Regulated
learning vs unlearning
Learning vs UnLearning
  • “It’s not that people don’t know.
  • It’s that so much of what people know just isn’t so.”
criticisms of recombinant dna technology from prophets princes priests and people
Criticisms of Recombinant DNA Technology from Prophets, Princes, Priests and People
  • Perversion
  • Poison
  • Promiscuity
  • Profit
  • Power
perversion
Perversion
  • Transfer of genes from one species to another is an abomination
  • ‘The realm of God and of God alone’
poison
Poison
  • The introduced gene itself may be a poison
  • Introducing new genes may turn on dangerous genes or turn off beneficial genes
promiscuity
Promiscuity
  • The introduced gene may make the crop a superweed
  • The introduced gene may flow to wild relatives, polluting their gene pool
  • The introduced gene may flow to related weeds, making them superweeds.
profit
Profit
  • Companies are concerned primarily with making a profit
  • “Food for people, not for profit”
power
Power
  • Biotechnology by its need for infrastructure concentrates power in countries rich in infrastructure
  • Biotechnology companies by their drive for profits seek patents, preclude the free use of the technology, purchase competitors, prevent farmers from saving seed
power continued
Power, continued
  • Biotechnology sucks resources away from research and economic development based on sustainable agriculture, including especially organic methods.
fairness in proof and in proving
Fairness in Proof and in Proving
  • Comparable Scrutiny
  • What Every 6 Year Old Knows: What’s Fair, and What’s Unfair
  • What is a Fair Compare?
is biotechnology safe
Is Biotechnology Safe?
  • Yes or No
  • Black and White
  • Cut and Dried
  • Guaranteed
  • And Certain
is biotechnology safe59
Is Biotechnology Safe?
  • Distinguishing between
  • The Process and its inherent risks
  • &
  • The Specific Gene and its inherent risks
is biotechnology safe60
Is Biotechnology Safe?
  • The Possibilities: Risks of rDNA are
  • Greater Than,
  • Equal To,
  • Less Than,
  • Or Different From Risks from other genetic modifications?
genetic modifications of crops
Genetic Modifications of Crops
  • In how many ways are crops genetically modified today?
genetic modifications of crops63
Genetic Modifications of Crops
  • Selection Tissue Culture
  • Breeding Somaclonal Variation
  • Cloning Embryogenesis
  • Grafting Cell Fusion
  • Hybridization Transposons
  • Mutagenesis Viral Infection
genetic modifications
Genetic Modifications
  • Which of these are “natural”?
  • Which of these occur in Nature in the absence of The Hand of Humanity?
  • Does it matter, as a point of risk?
  • Manipulate, Maneuver, Manufacture
how are the risks of these genetic modifications managed and reviewed
How are the risks of these genetic modifications managed and reviewed?
  • Should the threshold of safety for crops developed using these methods serve as the threshold of safety for crops developed using recombinant DNA technology?
is biotechnology as safe as other methods of genetic modification
Is Biotechnology As Safe As Other Methods of Genetic Modification?
  • Key principle based on 1987 report from the National Academy of Sciences
  • Safety assessments “should be based on the nature of the organism and the environment into which it will be introduced, not on the method by which it was modified.”
is biotechnology as safe as other methods of genetic modification67
Is Biotechnology As Safe As Other Methods of Genetic Modification?
  • 1987 National Academy of Science: “no conceptual distinction exists between genetic modification of plants and microorganisms by classical methods or by molecular methods that modify DNA and transfer genes.”
is biotechnology as safe as other methods of genetic modification68
Is Biotechnology As Safe As Other Methods of Genetic Modification?
  • 1989 National Research Council report
  • “Crops modified by molecular and cellular methods should pose risks no different from those modified by classical genetic methods for similar traits.”
revisiting the issue of relative risk
Revisiting the Issue of Relative Risk
  • A Committee of the National Research Council has again reviewed the issue of relative risks of recombinant DNA technology
  • The committee’s report in April 2000 reaffirmed that there is no evidence that the risks of recombinant DNA technology are different from those of other methods of genetic modification.
is it safe vs is it safe enough
"Is It Safe?" vs. "Is It Safe Enough?”
  • Science can assess the risk
  • Politics draws the threshold of acceptance
  • For example, what are the roles of science and of politics in setting speed limits?
what is the benchmark of safety
What is the Benchmark of Safety?
  • How safe is safe enough?
  • Should transgenic crops be less safe, as safe, or safer than other genetically modified crops?
  • If safer, how much safer? How measured? How long?
what is the benchmark of safety72
What is the Benchmark of Safety?
  • The Method of Heft vs.
  • The Double Scales of Justice
  • We may not know how risky two approaches are, but we can consider which weighs more
  • Conventional Methods as the Standard of Acceptable Risk
slide73
Comparable Scrutiny for Comparable Risk?
  • Uncomparable Scrutiny for Comparable Risk?
product vs process
Product vs. Process
  • Where lie the risks?
  • Where do people perceive the risks lie?
two types of regulations
Two Types of Regulations
  • Regulations to protect the public from the risks of biotechnology
  • Regulations to protect biotechnology from the fears of the public
  • What are the benefits and pitfalls of such ‘reassurance regulations’?
in labeling what should be
In Labeling, what should be:
  • Compulsory?
  • Permitted?
  • Prohibited?
labeling in us the product
Labeling in US: The Product
  • Composition
  • Adulteration
labeling in us the claims
Labeling in US: The Claims
  • Truthful
  • And Not Misleading
defensive labeling
Defensive Labeling
  • "May Contain”
  • Tolerances of Content
the consumer sovereignty argument
The Consumer Sovereignty Argument:
  • The consumer has a right to know what goes in the consumer’s body.
  • WWW2NO: Whatever We Want to Know
  • Rights vs Remedies
  • The strength of the right is really in the power of the remedy
the consumer sovereignty argument81
The Consumer Sovereignty Argument
  • Right to Know vs Demand to Know
  • Right to Know vs. Obligation to Divulge
  • Compare to other rights: to free press, to free education, to bear & keep arms, to free conscience
  • If the consumer right to know is absolute, then how far does it go?
are there limits on consumer sovereignty
Are There Limits on Consumer Sovereignty?
  • For example, what if a majority of consumers demand to know the religion of the producer?
is the power of a right in the remedy
Is the power of a right in the remedy?
  • Do you have the right to know whatever you want to know about the food you are buying?
  • At a market? At a store? At a restaurant?
  • Remedy: choose not to use if the seller cannot or will not provide the information.
the economic justice argument
The Economic Justice Argument:
  • Labeling as an Economic “Good or Service”
  • Beyond information on composition and safety, extra labeling information should be treated as economic goods or services
the economic justice argument85
The Economic Justice Argument
  • Those that value the good should pay for it
  • Those that don’t value it should not have to pay for it
starlink
StarLink
  • Cry9c protein and gene
  • Potential for Allergenicity
  • Confusing A posteriori & A priori?
  • The Split Approval:
    • Standards of Practice of Hybrid Seed Corn
    • Standards of Performance

Contaminant vs Adulterant

the precautionary principle and the questions remain argument
The Precautionary Principle and the “Questions Remain” Argument
  • What are the powers and limits of science as a way of probing the unknown?
  • Is science omniscience?
  • Since omniscience is never possible, how do we decide in the face of uncertainty?
the questions remain argument
The “Questions Remain” Argument
  • Questions remain about gene splicing.
  • However, this is true for even the most familiar methods of genetic modification.
  • Is familiarity a function of risk or a factor in acceptance?
  • Should we care about the distinction?
philosophies of proof
Philosophies of Proof
  • European
  • vs
  • North American
why vs why not
Why? vs. Why Not?
  • Continental Europe: Unless it is permitted, it is prohibited
  • English and North American: Unless it is prohibited, it is permitted
the nature of proof
The Nature of Proof
  • Whom do we trust? vs.
  • What do we trust?
  • The difference between assuaging the fear and assaying the risk
the burden of proof
The Burden of Proof:
  • Caution
  • Precaution
  • Pretense & Paralysis
the jane austen analysis of science as a way of dealing with uncertainty
The Jane Austen Analysis of Science as a Way of Dealing with Uncertainty
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Roles of Science in Choosing to Use or Choosing to Refuse
  • The Roles of Science in Negotiation, Mediation and Arbitration
jerry caulder a crisis of epistemology
Jerry Caulder: A Crisis of Epistemology
  • Be aware of how society has changed historically in assessing truth.
  • "We had an Authoritative System : the pope, the king, the prince decided what was right."
  • "Then we moved into the Scientific Method: reason and experience and experiment tested our ideas."
slide96
"Testability is the one difference between science and faith. That\'s what scientists do--they test, and retest. The problem is you\'re wrong alot. But the ultimate defense that you\'re moving toward the truth. Can anybody else make that claim?"
slide97
"But in the last few years we\'ve moved into the Egalitarian Method: let\'s just vote on what the truth is.”
  • "We vote on what the truth is rather than trying to figure out what it is.”
science as a source of freedom and fairness
Science as a Source of Freedom and Fairness
  • The Uses of Science in Accommodating Profound Concerns Unfounded by the Data
  • The Roles of Science and of Public Opinion in Shaping Public Policy as to What will be Compulsory, Permitted and Prohibited
agricultural puritanism
Agricultural Puritanism
  • Certainty, Zeal -- and Intolerance
  • Bombing buildings (late 1980’s), wrecking field trials, and breaking windows-- anonymously and at night (Oct. 1999 in Wisconsin)
  • Is Propheteering any better than Profiteering?
wholesome holistic holy
Wholesome Holistic & Holy
  • Understanding Perspectives of Food
  • Discerning between Loathsome and Unwholesome
  • The Powers and Limits of Science
in labeling what should be101
In Labeling, what should be:
  • Compulsory?
  • Permitted?
  • Prohibited?
labeling in us the product102
Labeling in US: The Product
  • Composition
  • Adulteration
labeling in us the claims103
Labeling in US: The Claims
  • Truthful
  • And Not Misleading
defensive labeling104
Defensive Labeling
  • "May Contain”
  • Tolerances of Content
the economic justice argument105
The Economic Justice Argument:
  • Labeling as an Economic “Good or Service”
  • Beyond information on composition and safety, extra labeling information should be treated as economic goods or services
the economic justice argument107
The Economic Justice Argument
  • Those that value the good should pay for it
  • Those that don’t value it should not have to pay for it
the consumer sovereignty argument108
The Consumer Sovereignty Argument:
  • WWW: Whatever We Want
  • Rights vs Remedies
  • The strength of the right is really in the power of the remedy
are there limits on consumer sovereignty109
Are There Limits on Consumer Sovereignty?
  • For example, what if a majority of consumers demand to know the religion of the producer?
international trade issues
International Trade Issues
  • The Idea of Fungibility
  • Accommodating The Concept of Commodities
slide111
Labeling
  • Segregation
  • Detection of “contamination”
  • Tolerance of Crops with Transgenes
slide112
Boycotts by Consumers
  • Embargoes by Countries’ Governments
  • Non-tariff Trade Barriers
  • Sleepless in Seattle
responses to intimidation
Responses to Intimidation
  • Is it fair to say that neither might nor fright makes right?
the montreal accord
The Montreal Accord
  • The BioDiversity Treaty vs
  • The Global Agreement on Tariffs & Trade
  • The Precautionary Principle vs
  • Substantial Scientific Evidence
us vs eu on the newshour 1 31 00
US vs EU on The Newshour 1.31.00
  • Frank Loy, Undersecretary of State
  • John Richardson, Deputy Ambassador of European Commission
  • EU: Consumer concern over environmental impact
  • EU: can reject a crop if there is scientific doubt, by invoking the precautionary principle
eu concerns
EU Concerns
  • EU: has been motivated by concerns of voters
  • “If our voters want us to be cautious, then our politicians need to be cautious”
  • “It’s not about our farmers, it’s about our consumers”
us eu position has been
US: EU position has been
  • Not scientific
  • Political
  • Unfair
  • Damaging to farmers
slide118
A final method called the Humanitarian Approach described by the idea that "You\'re a nice fellow, so we\'ll give credence to your ideas.”
is biotechnology safe bse nvcjd the crux
Is Biotechnology Safe?BSE & nvCJD: The Crux
  • March 1996
  • The Event That Crumbled Public Trust in Scientists and Perhaps in Science
  • Is there a difference between saying “We have no evidence that English beef is less safe than other sources of beef” and saying “It’s safe”?
weighing risks why words matter
Weighing Risks: Why Words Matter
  • Can we hear the difference between statements about biology and statements about biologists?
so why are gene spliced crops called gmos
(So why are gene-spliced crops called GMOs?)
  • I don’t knows.
  • Confusing, isn’t it?
  • Misleading, too?
slide124
GMO?
  • It’s misleading and not truthful to use the term “genetically modified organism” to mean exclusively those modified using recombinant DNA technology.
  • But it’s the European convention
  • It’s the Grossly Misleading Option for describing gene-spliced crops.
considering risks inherent to the process of gene splicing
Considering Risks: Inherent to the Process of Gene Splicing
  • Gene insertion: gene interruption to activate, inactivate, or change expression
  • Inserting a foreign gene: vitalism
  • Vitalism: The tomato with fish fins
considering the risks the process or the gene
Considering the Risks:The Process or The Gene?
  • Allergenicity
  • Superweeds
  • Transfer to ‘land races’ or special varieties of a crop that differ by color, size, hardiness, etc, that farmers have cultivated in specific places for generations
considering the risks antibiotic resistance genes
Considering the Risks:Antibiotic Resistance Genes
  • Why use antibiotic resistance genes or markers?
  • Coupling a valuable but hard-to-find gene with an easy-to-find gene.
  • How to find a golden needle in a haystack: duct-tape a steel needle to it, and use a magnet.
considering the risks antibiotic resistance genes128
Considering the RisksAntibiotic resistance genes
  • How often is the antibiotic applied?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why is this different from routine use of antibiotics as a feed supplement for livestock and poultry?
considering the risks the antibiotic resistance genes
Considering the Risks:The Antibiotic Resistance Genes
  • Where do the antibiotic resistance genes come from?
  • What is the worst-case scenario?
  • If the antibiotic resistance genes in crops originally come from bacteria, and the possible threat is that the genes will move from crops to bacteria, where’s the risk?
considering the risks introducing a new protein
Considering the Risks:Introducing a New Protein
  • How many ways can proteins previously not in the food supply be introduced into crops?
  • What is the level of scrutiny (due diligence) for introducing new proteins by conventional genetic modifications?
  • What should be the level of scrutiny for gene splicing?
the idea of substantial equivalence
The Idea of Substantial Equivalence
  • A regulatory concept borrowed from the process used to review new medical devices.
the unanswered ethical question unintended consequences of boycotts
The Unanswered EthicalQuestion: Unintended Consequences of Boycotts
  • Opportunity Cost
  • &
  • Opportunity Lost
wholesome vs loathsome133
Wholesome vs. Loathsome
  • A wholesome food can be loathsome, based on tradition, habit, taste or religion.
  • Who should pay for information about the loathsomeness of food?
  • What are the limits on the consumer right to know?
  • What are the legal remedies when the right is violated?
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