Public Values and Public Interest: Counterbalancing Economic Individualism

By Barry Bozeman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
PUBLIC VALUE MAPPING: THE CASE
OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS
AND THE “TERMINATOR GENE”

We're progressing, to be sure, ever more deeply into the forest.

—FRANZ GRILLPARZER, “Natural Sciences”

The science and technology of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is an especially compelling context for applying the Public Value Mapping model, in part because the stakes are high, in part because opinions are polarized, and in part because the issues touch on almost all the criteria of the PVM model. Some view GMOs as a means of saving the world from famine; others view GMOs as a likely route to exacerbated famine and to species and habitat destruction.

Never one to be accused of being an environmental Cassandra, President George W. Bush, speaking in 2003 at the Washington, D.C., annual meeting of the Biotechnology Industries Organization (BIO), lauded the conference attendees:

Your industry is helping this country and the world to meet a great chal-
lenge: sparing millions of people from starvation. . . . Through the work
of scientists in your field, many farmers in developed nations are able to
grow crops with high resistance to drought and pests and disease;
enabling farmers to produce far greater yields per acre. In our own coun-
try, we see the benefits of biotech every day with food prices and good
land conservation practices. Yet, the great advantages of biotechnology
have yet to reach developing nations in Africa and other lands where these
innovations are now most needed. Acting on unfounded, unscientific
fears, many European governments have blocked the import of all new
biotech crops. Because of these artificial obstacles many African nations
avoid investing in biotechnology, worried that their products will be shut

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