As the biotech crop industry is growing fast, society faces new challenges in policy-making processes because the commercialization of biotech crops involves considerations for public attitudes, perceptions, and ethical dilemmas about the risk and safety of biotech products. The commercialization considerations also raised questions of food security in the face of the growing population in the world. Many societies face the problem of how to cope adequately with new inventions and technologies. Many are now in the middle of debates about GM crops and foods.Therefore, it is important for the public to access information regarding the safe transfer, handling and use of genetic modified organisms (GMOs). It also requires consulting the public during the decision-making process and allowing the public informed about the final decision.
 
The Taiwanese government initiated a biosafety regulatory framework in 2003 by establishing the “Biotechnology Interagency Task”. It is an interdepartmental working group regarding the governance of GM technology. A few years of discussion at this working group and relevant programs led to the finalization of the Genetic Modification Technology Act (GM Technology Act) in September 2009; it addresses policy status of GM technology to be suitable for current social and cultural circumstances in Taiwan, and provisions in this act should still be set up by responsible governmental organizations due to issues. This paper attempts to clarify the current level of public communication and participation systems that are exemplified in draft biosafety policy frameworks related to GMO issues in Taiwan. It traces the history of its biosafety policy from 2003 to the present by relying on documentary analysis and interviewing key stakeholders. By doing so, it suggests how public communication and participatory systems may produce optimal results regarding GMO issues in Taiwan. It also discusses some lessons learned from the past few years that can help improve the Taiwanese public awareness and engagement to meet the fast development of biotechnology in the long-term considerations.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Public communication and participation in biotechnology issues
Experiences and lessons learned from GMO issues in Taiwan

Chia-Hsin Chen   Center for Society, Technology, and Medicine, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan

As the biotech crop industry is growing fast, society faces new challenges in policy-making processes because the commercialization of biotech crops involves considerations for public attitudes, perceptions, and ethical dilemmas about the risk and safety of biotech products. The commercialization considerations also raised questions of food security in the face of the growing population in the world. Many societies face the problem of how to cope adequately with new inventions and technologies. Many are now in the middle of debates about GM crops and foods.Therefore, it is important for the public to access information regarding the safe transfer, handling and use of genetic modified organisms (GMOs). It also requires consulting the public during the decision-making process and allowing the public informed about the final decision.
 
The Taiwanese government initiated a biosafety regulatory framework in 2003 by establishing the “Biotechnology Interagency Task”. It is an interdepartmental working group regarding the governance of GM technology. A few years of discussion at this working group and relevant programs led to the finalization of the Genetic Modification Technology Act (GM Technology Act) in September 2009; it addresses policy status of GM technology to be suitable for current social and cultural circumstances in Taiwan, and provisions in this act should still be set up by responsible governmental organizations due to issues. This paper attempts to clarify the current level of public communication and participation systems that are exemplified in draft biosafety policy frameworks related to GMO issues in Taiwan. It traces the history of its biosafety policy from 2003 to the present by relying on documentary analysis and interviewing key stakeholders. By doing so, it suggests how public communication and participatory systems may produce optimal results regarding GMO issues in Taiwan. It also discusses some lessons learned from the past few years that can help improve the Taiwanese public awareness and engagement to meet the fast development of biotechnology in the long-term considerations.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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