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Copyright © 2000 by The Resilience Alliance

The following is the established format for referencing this article:
Morris, S. 2000. Public attitudes to GM technology and public policy comments. Conservation Ecology 4(2): r5. [online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol4/iss2/resp5/

Response to Garry Peterson et al. 2000. "The risks and benefits of genetically modified crops: a multidisciplinary perspective"

Public Attitudes to GM Technology and Public Policy Comments

Shane Morris

University of Limerick

Published: October 20, 2000

Although the ideas put forward by Peterson et al. (2000) are interesting, I feel that clarification of the following points is required.

First, when it comes to regulating risks, the authors state that "... currently, Austria, the UK, and Germany have a moratorium, while the EU has a de facto moratorium." However, they do not make it clear that the moratorium in Austria is very different from the ones in the UK and Germany. No genetically modified (GM) crops at all, either experimental or commercial, have been planted in Austria, whereas there have been substantial plantings of GM crops in the UK and Germany under both small-scale and farm-scale test conditions. Parts B and C of the document commonly known as EU directive 90/220/EEC (Council of the European Union 1990) provide more information on this subject.

Second, the statement that "... as Krebs notes, public acceptance of GM crops appears to decrease with scientific understanding ..." is incorrect. What does seem to happen is that increased knowledge and understanding simply reinforce existing attitudes. Results from the European Union suggest that people with a greater understanding of biotechnology are more likely to hold a strong opinion about it (Durant et al. 1998).


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Council of the European Union. 1990. Council directive of 23 April 1990 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms (90/220/EEC). European Union, Brussells, Belgium.

Durant, J., M. W. Bauer, and G. Gaskell. 1998. Biotechnology in the public sphere: a European sourcebook. Science Museum, London, UK.

Peterson, G., S. Cunningham, L. Deutsch, J. Erickson, A. Quinlan, E. Raez-Luna, R. Tinch, M. Troell, P. Woodbury, and S. Zens. 2000. The risks and benefits of genetically modified crops: a multidisciplinary perspective. Conservation Ecology 4(1): 13 [online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol4/iss1/art13

Address of Correspondent:
Shane Morris
c/o Chemical and Environmental Sciences Department
University of Limerick
County Limerick, Ireland
Phone: +353-61-202911

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