This paper aims to examine some of the reasons behind public controversy associated with the introduction of genetically modified foods in Europe the 1990s. The historical background to the controversy is provided to give context. The issue of public acceptance of genetically modified foods, and indeed the emerging biosciences more generally, is considered in the context of risk perceptions and attitudes, public trust in regulatory institutions, scientists and industry, and the need to develop communication strategies that explicitly include public concerns rather than exclude them. Increased public participation has been promoted as a way of increasing trust in institutional practices associated with the biosciences, although questions still arise as to how to best utilise the outputs of such exercises in policy development. This issue will become more of a priority as decision-making systems become more transparent and open to public scrutiny. The results are discussed in the context of risk assessment and risk management, and recommendations for future research are made. In particular, it is recommended that new methods are developed in order to integrate public values more efficaciously into risk analysis processes, specifically with respect to the biosciences and to technology implementation in general.
Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2004, Vol 42, Issue 7, Jul, p. 1181-1193