Herbicide resistant sugar beet – what is the problem?

Risk assessment studies of herbicide resistant sugarbeet have revealed no risks to human health or the environment.Indeed it appears that commercial growth of this crop mightsecure benefits such as decreased pesticide use and increasedbiodiversity. However, widespread resistance to GM crops such asherbicide resistant sugar beet still persists in Europe. It isargued that this is not just because people do not know therelevant facts. Rather it is because popular resistance to GMfood is driven in part by concerns other than the fear ofnarrowly defined risks to health and the environment. These otherconcerns include an aversion to commercial monopoly and anegative view of pesticide use in general. Herbicide resistantsugar beet may also be perceived as a ``Trojan horse,'''' i.e., acrop whose licensing would create a precedent and make it morelikely that other, less environmentally friendly, crops will beapproved within the current strictly technical and science-basedrisk assessment procedures. To meet these public concerns, a kindof technology assessment reflecting factors such as benefits andconsumer choice is called for.
Keywords ethics  genetically modified  public concern  risk assessment  sugar beet
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DOI 10.1023/A:1011380222976
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