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Minerva Biotecnologica 2005 March;17(1):21-31

language: English

Global plant biotechnology and the need for an educated public

Meier I. 1, 2

1 Plant Biotechnology Center, Columbus, OH, USA;
2 Department of Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA


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With the exception of Europe, plant biotechnology and the introduction of new traits into crops by genetic engineering are gaining importance worldwide. Large multinational corporations as well as publicly funded local research and development activities begin to provide farmers and consumers in many countries with transgenic varieties of local crop plants. Advantages to the farmer, including reduced need for insecticides when growing Bt cotton, have promoted broad acceptance in some regions. However, public knowledge about genetic engineering, genetically modified (GM) crops, and GM food is currently strikingly deficient. Studies about expertise, trust and communication in the area of plant biotechnology show that the public still considers the experts in universities and public research institutions the most trustworthy source for information. At the same time, the expert’s role is being defined not as leading public opinion, but as demystifying new technology, thereby enabling sovereign public decision-making. Strategies to harness the trust in experts by providing free, global, and enabling information in an expert-public dialogue are discussed.

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