07/01/2005 - The potential benefits of GM insects, particularly with regards to human health, are so great that governments may find themselves under great pressure to move forward with field trials.
Public policies need to be in place that will not only protect public health and the environment effectively, but also be perceived by the communities in which this technology will be used as being credible and effective. We have learned from the past that science alone is not sufficient to create public acceptance. It would be a great tragedy to develop a truly safe and effective method to eradicate insect-borne diseases only to find communities rejecting it out of distrust and fear.
We believe that it is critical that these and other issues begin to be raised now, so that better answers can be in place by the time that GM insects are ready for uncaged release. To shed light on these issues, the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology sponsored a two-day conference entitled Biotech Bugs. This event brought together a range of interested parties to share information and exchange views on the potential benefits and risks associated with GM insects and to review the current laws and regulatory policies that apply to these insects.
The views that emerged from the conference are captured here to demonstrate the broad diversity of perspectives and to provide context for future dialogue on this very important issue. It should be noted that the exchanges among participants reflect only their opinions and not necessarily those of the sponsoring organizations.
Read the complete proceedings Biotech Bugs: A Look at the Science and Public Policy Surrounding the Release of Genetically Modified Insects.