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Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal
SJR: 0.123

ISSN Print: 2151-805X
ISSN Online: 2151-8068

Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

DOI: 10.1615/EthicsBiologyEngMed.v1.i2.20
pages 83-99

Principles for Incorporating Farmers in the Ethical Assessment of Genetically Modified Crops

Jason Behrmann
Bioethics Programs, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 3J7, Canada
Bryn Williams-Jones
Bioethics Programs, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 3J7, Canada

ABSTRACT

A current advance within the agricultural industry is the use of genetic engineering to produce novel crops for food production. This technology raises questions about how societies should position themselves with respect to genetically modified (GM) crop development and implementation; namely, how should the potentials and risks of this technology be evaluated? We argue that current methods to evaluate the risks and benefits of GM crops are inadequate and not conducive to the strategic development of this technology, where a way to ameliorate technology assessments for GM crops is to include farmers in the research process of evaluating these crops prior to their commercialization. However, particularities concerning the ethical status of such research require special consideration and vigilance. For example, in such technology assessment initiatives, farmers would occupy both the roles of research participant and research investigator. Other particularities surface due to factors related to the nature of GM crops. These particularities are examined with reference to concepts drawn from the field of research ethics, namely informed consent, compensatory decisions, and issues of participant inclusion/exclusion.


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