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Social and Ethical Considerations of Agro-biotechnology. Gary A. Goreham, Ph.D. Department of Sociology/Anthropology North Dakota State University. Biotechnology, in general, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in particular, pose many social and ethical questions.

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social and ethical considerations of agro biotechnology

Social and Ethical Considerations ofAgro-biotechnology

Gary A. Goreham, Ph.D.

Department of Sociology/Anthropology

North Dakota State University

slide2
Biotechnology, in general, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in particular, pose many social and ethical questions.
  • Our discussion today will explore some of these questions.
the sociology of genetically modified organisms
The Sociology of Genetically Modified Organisms

The Social Psychology of GMOs

Macro-Structural Issues: Government, Private Industry, and International Relations

Micro-Structural Issues: Small Groups and Communities

the social psychology of gmos
The Social Psychology of GMOs
  • What is the social psychology and cosmology regarding human’s place in/connection to nature as a result of the “genetic revolution?”
  • How are public perceptions of GMOs affected by the larger questions of biotechnology and human cloning?
  • What are environmentalists’, faith community’s, etc. attitudes toward GMOs?
  • How do social movement organizations shape attitudes toward GMOs?
  • What are producers attitudes toward/adoption of GMOs?
  • What are consumer awareness of/attitudes toward GMOs?
micro structural issues small groups and communities
Micro-Structural Issues:Small Groups and Communities
  • What are the characteristics of those who can and can’t afford GMOs technology?
  • What are the consequences for producers for adopting or not adopting GMOs?
  • What are the employment, social capital, conflict, and development implications for rural communities?
  • How have the relationships among residents in rural neighborhoods been affected by GMOs?
macro structural issues government private industry international relations
Macro-Structural Issues: Government, Private Industry, & International Relations
  • Who are the beneficiaries of GMOs: producers, consumers, agribusiness, general public?
  • What about the monopoly of the agro-food system by transnational corporations?
macro structural issues government private industry international relations1
Macro-Structural Issues: Government, Private Industry, & International Relations
  • Who are the beneficiaries of GMOs: producers, consumers, agribusiness, general public?
  • What about the monopoly of the agro-food system by transnational corporations?
  • What are the connections among government-subsidized GMO research, private industry, and government regulation?
  • How about patent and intellectual property rights?
  • Whose responsibility is it to clean-up genetic contamination?
  • What is the Impact on the structure of agriculture in Developing Nations?
  • How about GMOs as military, economic weapons; genetic terrorism?
the ethics of genetically modified organisms
The Ethics of Genetically Modified Organisms

Ethical Principles

Beneficence

Non-maleficence

Justice

Autonomy

beneficence
Beneficence
  • Beneficence = to do good; unconditional goodwill and compassion.
  • Can GMOs feed a hungry world?
  • Is GMO engineering, technology, and agriculture sustainable? Profitable? Healthy?
autonomy
Autonomy
  • Autonomy = self-determination; respect for persons.
  • What limits human action: God’s or Nature’s design? Human knowledge (science) or ability (technology)?
  • To what degree should GMO engineering, technology, and agriculture be regulated?
  • Labeling: Do individuals have a right to know in order to make informed decisions?
non maleficence
Non-maleficence
  • Non-maleficence = do no evil or harm; risk-benefit analysis.
  • What are the biological, environmental, health, and economic risks of GMOs? Are they safe?
  • What could happen? What should happen?
  • Who will decide?
  • Are the risks acceptable? And do the benefits outweigh the risks?
justice
Justice
  • Justice = equity; fair treatment for all people.
  • Should private individuals or corporations have the right to patent genes or life forms?
  • How equitably will the benefits and risks be distributed?
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The current state of affairs regarding the social and ethical implications of genetically modified organisms?

We have far more questions than answers!