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Texas A&M Law Review

Article Title

The GMO/GE Debate

Authors

Joanna K. Sax

Document Type

Article

Abstract

We live longer and healthier lives because advances in science create easier and better ways to sustain and survive. Society has an intricate relationship with biotechnology. Vaccines save lives. Fluoridated water decreases dental issues. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections. Nuclear power is a form of clean energy. With any emerging technology, the benefits do not exist in a vacuum, thus, negative consequences result as well. Our widespread uses of antibiotics are creating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Our research into nuclear energy also facilitated the creation of nuclear bombs. Perhaps it is human nature to use scientific advances for good and for bad. Acknowledging the reality that advances in science lead to both positive and negative consequences, we have to analyze the trade-offs in order to implement sound policy.Food from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) food (collectively “GE”) provides a prime example where advances in biotechnology are available to address a variety of issues in our food supply. GE food is in a major cross-hair in the public debate—although much of the public debate fails to fully acknowledge the contours of issues facing our food supply and the environment, and so it is in a sense a misguided public debate. Disconnect between the public debate and scientific knowledge is not new; unfortunately, many examples exist to highlight the scientific community’s failure to fully educate the public. The GE debate appears to have an added layer of complexity: mass marketing to consumers suggesting that GE food is unsafe, harmful and bad for the planet. These marketing campaigns engage emotion, for example, that consumption of GE food will harm children. These anti-GE marketing campaigns prey on the emotions of the consumers, as many marketing campaigns do. This swelling of the emotional response to GE foods is very difficult to overcome. This Article attempts to provide context and scientific support for discussing the challenges to our food supply. Addressing the issues in our food supply is critical, but the discussion has to be based on facts—and these facts must inform our regulatory policies. To do this, this Article provides an overview of the scientific literature on conventional and GE food, attempts to understand the emotional response to GE food, and provides a frame of focus for regulatory policies.

First Page

345

Last Page

371

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