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Inclusive Governance over Agricultural Biotechnology: Risk Assessment and Public Participation

 

Deryck Beyleveld and Li Jianjun

(Corresponding author: Deryck Beyleveld, email: deryck.beyleveld@durham.ac.uk)

Law, Innovation and Technology, Vol.9, NO.2, 2017

 

Abstract: A public outcry opposing the use of genetic modification of rice has produced a governance deadlock in China, which threatens to undermine attempts to reap the benefits that modern agricultural biotechnology can offer to the Chinese people. It is argued that this opposition to the agricultural use of modern technology is, in large part, the result, not only of lack of public participation in the decisions involved, but of an over-reliance on conventional approaches to risk assessment that do not adequately take account of the interests of all who stand to be affected by the use of the technology. Public participation is necessary, but it must be guided by equitable principles that take proper account of the rights and interests of all stakeholders. It is argued that a governance strategy based on the Principle of Generic Consistency (PGC) of the American philosopher Alan Gewirth has promise to counter the distrust of the regulators that fuels the deadlock because the PGC can be justified from the perspective of Marxist and Confucian principles that dominate the Chinese political and ethical landscape.

Keywords: Chinese agricultural biotechnology; Gewirth; precaution; public participation; risk assessment; social media;


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