Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why the GM crops trade conflict needs a new approach to risk

11.09.2006
Whatever their stance, organisations like the World Trade Organisation, environmental campaign groups and government departments all claim to be examining the ‘risks’ of GM crops. But according to new research, the key to solving disputes such as the GM crops trade conflict is a new approach to understanding these issues, one that drops the use of the word ‘risk’ as a collective term.

The findings, which are the result of a 5 year study carried out at SPRU at the University of Sussex, will be presented at a conference in Brighton on Tuesday 12 September. Dr Adrian Ely, a Research Fellow at SPRU, will present his talk on ‘Typologies of incertitude as tools for policy analysis and policy making’ at SPRU’s 40th Anniversary conference on the Future of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, which takes place next week from 11 to 13 September.

“A typology is just a way of understanding that things belong to different categories, and that we should distinguish between them,” says Ely. “When people talk about risks, they are usually talking about aspects of risk, uncertainty, ambiguity and ignorance. Instead, we use the word incertitude to describe this collection of things, so that we address them all.”

Ely explains that there are serious limits to using the idea of ‘risk’ to describe the potential problems associated with new developments in science and technology.

“Its all too easy to make the mistake of using quantitative risk assessment techniques to try to understand unknowns that are really uncertainties, when it is impossible for us to work out the probability that something will happen.”

The typology was developed by Prof. Andy Stirling, also of SPRU. Stirling, Ely and others are using it to explore various science and technology related issues.

"I use this typology to understand the government's decisions around GM crops and foods. Most policy problems - for example, climate change, GM crops or nanotechnology - involve a situation in which we don't have a full understanding of the science in question. It's important for us to appreciate what we know and what we don't know in order to prioritise research and/or public engagement,” says Ely. “That's where this typology can help."

The World Trade Organisation recently concluded that the EU had broken trade rules by failing to approve certain GM crops and foods produced in the USA. By considering the issues associated with risk, uncertainty, ambiguity and ignorance separately, he has been able to make sense of these events in a way that could be useful to policymakers internationally.

“There are so many complicated questions at play,” says Ely, “Using a tool such as this helps us to break them down into manageable parts. “The USA and Europe have assessed the risks from GM crops in different ways. This has led to divergent policies internationally, with bitter trade disputes as a result. This research can help us to understand the sources of the trade conflict and to move towards ways of resolving them."

Dr Jenny Gristock | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Units/spru/events/ocs/index.php

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New gene for atrazine resistance identified in waterhemp
24.02.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

nachricht Researchers discover a new link to fight billion-dollar threat to soybean production
14.02.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>