D. A., and Soleri, D. 2005. Rethinking the risk management process for
genetically engineered crop varieties in small-scale, traditionally based
agriculture. Ecology and Society 10(1): 9. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol10/iss1/art9/.
as pdf file.
Proponents of genetically engineered (GE) crops often assume that the
risk management used in the industrial world is appropriate for small-scale,
traditionally based agriculture in the Third World. Opponents of GE crops
often assume that risk management is inappropriate for the Third World,
because it is inherently biased in favor of the industrial world. We examine
both of these assumptions, by rethinking risk management for GE crops
and transgenes, using the example of maize transgene flow from the U.S.
to Mexico. Risk management for the Third World is a necessary first step
of a broader benefitcost analysis of GE crops, which would include
comparisons with existing varieties and with alternative varieties such
as transgenic farmer varieties and organic varieties. Our goal is to use
existing information on GE crops and on the social and biological characteristics
of Third World agriculture to identify key processes that need to be considered
in risk management, and the additional research required to adequately
understand them. The four main steps in risk management are hazard identification,
risk analysis (exposure x harm), risk evaluation, and risk treatment.
We use informal event trees to identify possible exposure to GE crops
and transgenes, and resulting biological and social harm; give examples
of farmers ability to evaluate social harm; and discuss the possibilities
for risk treatment. We conclude that risk management is relevant for Third
World agriculture, but needs to be based on the unique biological and
social characteristics of small-scale, traditionally based agriculture,
including the knowledge and values of Third World farmers and consumers.