In early 2001, the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology was established, through a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to the University of Richmond, to introduce a neutral party to the debate on agricultural biotechnology. From its inception, the PIFB had two separate programs: a research and education campaign, and a consensus project referred to as the “Stakeholder Forum.” The research and education campaign uses reports, conferences, and public debates to increase awareness about the many complex issues embedded in discussions about agricultural biotechnology. This report concerns only the activities of the Stakeholder Forum, which concluded in May 2003.
The Stakeholder Forum was composed of leaders with expertise and interest in the federal regulatory system governing agricultural biotechnology. Forum participants included representatives of the biotechnology industry; environmental and consumer advocacy organizations; the farming and ranching communities; food processing and marketing companies; and academia.
Over the two-year period, Stakeholder Forum members sought to develop consensus recommendations that would enhance the ability of U.S. policies, programs, and regulations governing agricultural biotechnology products to protect public health and the environment. Members paid particular attention to the ability of the regulatory system to: address the health and environmental issues associated with future products of biotechnology; provide a clear pathway to market for those products; and inspire consumer confidence.