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 research recovers nutrients from seafood process water
31.10.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology

nachricht Plant Hormone Makes Space Farming a Possibility
17.10.2018 | Universität Zürich

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: First diode for magnetic fields

Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.

Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

New China and US studies back use of pulse oximeters for assessing blood pressure

21.11.2018 | Medical Engineering

Exoplanet stepping stones

21.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>