From understanding genes to making use of them (Part I : vols. I and II)
The biotechnologies actually came into being several thousand years ago when man began to make cheese, beer and bread using micro-organisms. These foodstuffs are routinely consumed without ever giving rise to particular concern. Pasteur improved the processes and everybody -apart from the Americans- appreciates cheese made from raw milk. The advent of genetically modified plants overturned the trusting relationship that existed between French people and their food. These plants, and particularly the foodstuffs made from them, are causing great concern to our compatriots in that they are regarded as presenting a very large number of hazards to health and the environment. " It’s not natural " some people think. But one may ask whether the agro-food business had not already made its own contribution by making up cooked dishes using products consisting of mixtures of many basic components, additives, preservatives, and so on. In this report, Jean-Yves Le Déaut has tried to dedramatise the subject. With the greatest objectivity he has looked into all the consequences for our society of this explosion in the life sciences. One of his innovations has been to convene the first "conference of citizens", as a face-to-face meeting between experts and ordinary people. For this purpose, over a period of eight months, he listened to, consulted, interviewed and questioned anyone with an opinion on this subject who wanted to be heard. Taking all these views into account he then himself adopted a position on a number of topics : the possible effects of these plants on the environment, human health, the future of agriculture, and the situation of developing countries. He has identified the issues and looked into peoples’ fears and concerns. This book ends with a large number of recommendations aimed at ensuring that the introduction of these plants, the product of human intelligence, takes place in a transparent and democratic manner.
Short title:
Making use of genes (Pt I : vols. I+II)
Start date:
End date:
Project leader:
Office Parlementaire d´Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques of the French Parliament (OPECST)