UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Public engagement pathways for emerging GM insect technologies Burgess, Michael M.; Mumford, John D.; Lavery, James V.


Policy and management related to the release of organisms generated by emerging biotechnologies for pest management should be informed through public engagement. Regulatory decisions can be conceptually distinguished into the development of frameworks, the assessment of the release of a specific modified organism, and implementation decisions such as location and timing. Although these decisions are often intertwined in practice, the negotiation takes place at different stages of technology development and suggests different roles for public engagement. Some approaches to public engagement are more appropriate for different purposes and situations, and it is not always obvious how to go about matching the approach to the purpose. In addition to the diverse technologies involved in generating modified organisms, there are diverse publics with particular interests and different kinds of knowledge. Institutional interests range from commercial development to public regulation and future uptake. Contextual features, such as agency mandates, may limit or structure the extent and approach to public engagement. Different convening groups (government agencies, public interest groups, academics, businesses) and the kind of decision that is being considered determine what kind of input is needed and how the engaging groups will be constituted. This paper considers how the context of the release of genetically modified insects for pest control requires expanding approaches to the design of the public engagement.

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