Issues and the Pew Charitable Trusts
This brief article
provides an overview of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology.
A link to its website provides access to a broad range of information
about contemporary biotechnology issues. The Pew Initiative represents
an excellent source of reasonably balanced information about biotechnology.
The application of
biotechnology to agriculture has triggered much public debate about the
benefits, environmental costs, potential impacts on human health, and
other related issues. In many ways, this public debate has become rather
polarized, with some advocates seeing only the problems and risks potentially
associated with this new technology and other advocates seeing only its
potential benefits and promise. Unfortunately, the polarized character
of the debate makes it more difficult to find reliable, reasonably balanced
sources regarding agricultural biotechnology.
The Pew Initiative
on Food and Biotechnology, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is one
source that seeks to develop and disseminate balanced, focused, objective
information about issues in food and agricultural biotechnology. In furtherance
of the goals of balance and objectivity, the Pew Initiative is creating
a small, bipartisan Executive Advisory Committee co-chaired by Dan Glickman,
former Secretary of Agriculture, and Vin Weber, a former member of Congress
Since March of 2001
the Pew Initiative has sponsored research, workshops and conferences,
and polls that have identified and contributed to a better understanding
of diverse perspectives on biotechnology issues. Among the research reports,
issue briefs, fact sheets, and other information published by the Pew
- HARVEST ON THE
HORIZON: FUTURE USES OF AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY
- GENETICALLY MODIFIED
CROPS IN THE UNITED STATES
- GUIDE TO U.S.
REGULATION OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY
- STATE LEGISLATIVE
ACTIVITY IN 2001 RELATED TO AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY
- THE STARLINK CASE:
ISSUES FOR THE FUTURE
- VIEWS ON GENETIC
MODIFICATION OF FOOD INFLUENCED BY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, NOT JUST SCIENCE,
- KNOWING WHERE
IT'S GOING: BRINGING FOOD TO MARKET IN THE AGE OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED
These and other publications
are available from the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology website
The Pew Initiative
has also created a "Stakeholders' Forum" in which a small group
of representatives from industry, public institutions, academia, consumers
and environmental groups and others are attempting to reach consensus
about regulatory and marketing issues important to the future of biotechnology.
To date, most of the more than fifty products approved for commercial
use by federal regulatory agencies have dealt with introducing herbicide-resistant
or pesticide-producing genes into corn, cotton, and soybeans. However,
future biotechnology products, such as pharmaceutical plants and genetically
engineered livestock, are likely to pose even greater challenges for the
regulatory system. The consensus-building effort of the "Stakeholders'
Forum" should help the biotechnology regulatory system evolve to
better serve the American public as these future challenges unfold. Information
about the consensus-building project is also available from the Pew Initiative
on Food and Biotechnology website at http://pewagbiotech.org/.