LSE academics Robert Falkner and George Gaskell are contributing significantly to the current debate on genetically modified crops and public opinion on them.
25 September 2003
Dr Robert Falkner, a lecturer in International Relations, LSE, has produced a briefing paper entititled The Next Trade War? GM Products, the Cartagena Protocol and the WTO for the Royal Institute of International Affairs [Chatham House] on the international GM trade conflict, co-authored with Duncan Brack and Judith Goll.
Earlier this summer, LSE's Professor George Gaskell and colleagues revealed that while people in the UK are now more optimistic about biotechnology and less opposed to GM crops and GM foods than in 1999, the jury of public opinion is still out.
Their report Ambivalent GM Nation? showed that many people are unconvinced about the benefits of GM agri-foods; a small majority now supports GM crops and the public splits 50/50 on GM foods.
The research compiled for the first time a series of Eurobarometer surveys charting the public's views of biotechnology before, during and after the 'watershed years' of 1996 to 1999. Through the 1990s people became steadily less optimistic about biotechnology and less supportive of GM crops and GM foods. Yet, the controversies over GM agriculture had no impact on public support for biomedical applications, widely thought to be beneficial even if they are also risky.
Post 1999 the research notes a change in the climate of opinion towards GM; where a majority was opposed in 1999, a small majority now supports GM crops and the public splits 50/50 on GM foods. This obvious ambivalence is reflected in the respondents' intentions about buying and eating GM foods. Some reject them altogether; others acknowledge, for example, the benefits of lower pesticide residues and still others seem almost enthusiastic. In 2002 there is also more confidence in industry and government.
The GM debate: Thursday 27 November
GM issues will be debated at LSE on Thursday 27 November by Sir Ben Gill CBE, president of the National Farmers' Union, Professor Chris Pollack, director of the Institute for Grassland and Environmental Research in Aberystwyth, and Rt Hon Michael Meacher, former minister of state responsible for the environment and a staunch critic of the Government's pro-GM position. Professors Tim Dyson and George Gaskell will be as panellists.
Thursday 27 November. 6.30pm. Old Theatre Old Building, LSE. Free and unticketed.
26 September 2003