Published 2001 by NABC.

While agricultural biotechnology has potential benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment, public outcry has focused on its problems—extreme views on either side are detrimental to all with those claiming that all applications of agricultural biotechnology are bad falling into one kind of trap, but those who assert that biotechnology will provide all the answers fall into another. Some of this is due to poor communication skills of scientists and how they communicate with the public. They are cautious, hesitant to extrapolate, and generally unprepared to deliver sound bites. But the public is interested in questions such as: Is agricultural biotechnology moral? Is it fair, or does it exploit? Does it cause society to lose control?

Historically, new technologies, especially when the public does not understand them, are viewed with suspicion and introduction may be delayed with negative consequences to the public. Decisions about risk management were not influenced by the public in the past, but that is no longer the case. Public perception can be influenced when community leaders become involved in educational efforts. Farmers, on the other hand, see biotechnology as primarily a management tool that will be accepted if it makes economic sense.

Cultural and historical differences in perception, as well as different needs, inhibit a unified approach to biotechnology between the US, Europe and the developing world.

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