Genetic imperialism? : the First and Third World's face-off on the frontiers of science
Krogh, Peter F. (Peter Frederic)
Person InterviewedFowler, Cary
Keyes, Alan L.
Examines the controversy surrounding the use of plant genetic resources to engineer advanced crops.
In the 1980s a wave of scientific breakthroughs changed the way the world grows its food. Buoyed by the emergence of genetically engineered strains of crops, farmers increased their outputs several-fold, providing food for millions of people across the world. These agricultural advances were achieved thanks to researchers in western laboratories using plant genetic resources, genetic material primarily collected from wild plants native to third world countries. Although the world’s poor were among the foremost beneficiaries of new high-yield crops, many third world nations felt that the harvesting of genetic material by for-profit researchers from the developed world amounted to genetic imperialism. A group of these third world nations took their case to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, where they established the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources. This initiative, similar to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Moon Treaty, declared that certain resources are the common heritage of mankind, and as such should be exploited for the benefit of all people, not just for the countries that are economically or technically able to do so. The undertaking, as it became known, would have placed the world’s gene banks under the jurisdiction of the Food and Agriculture Organization, radically altering the way plant research and development was conducted. The United States, a vanguard in the field of genetically engineered crops, opposed the undertaking. Who should control the world’s genetic resources, and how will international politics affect the development of biotechnology? In this episode, host Peter Krogh sits down with Cary Fowler, Program Director of the Rural Advancement Fund, and Ambassador Alan Keyes, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, to discuss the science and politics of biotechnology.
Genetically modified foods; Genetically modified foods -- Law and legislation; Food supply -- International cooperation; Aid and Development; Health, Science, and Technology; Biotechnology; Genetically Modified Food; International Food Assistance; United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO);
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