Bringing Genetic Engineering Debate into the Public Realm
Resistance to GE crops is growing internationally, however, we still lack an environmental and socio-economic ethos that commands international consensus. For one, it is dominated by single-issue advocacy, for example demand for labeling GE foods that tends to treat threats to the environment such as genetic pollution, or denial of farmers' right to seed, as discrete, semi-sovereign problems. While this narrow focus may make sense from a legislative point of view, it has proven inadequate in addressing more systemic problems. As such, the very nature of our environmental discourse discourages the emergence of multi-issue coalitions that are needed to reverse environmentally damaging patterns of development and technology.
The debate over the role of genetic engineering (GE) in agriculture is a key area where stakes are enormous, with the specter of gene spills that cannot be contained or reversed, the loss of crop and wild plant biodiversity, increased use of herbicides, new allergens and toxins in our food supply, antibiotic resistance, gene transfer across species, the privatization of public institutions and of life itself, farmers losing the ability to save seeds, and countries losing their ability to protect their borders from importation of potentially dangerous organisms and technologies.
It is this specter which the Oakland Institute seeks to counter. We work both nationally and internationally to forge a new environmental ethos around the genetic engineering debate that can command a wider international consensus and help bring it into the public realm.