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Precaution and Progress: Lessons from the GM crops dialogue. Final Report

This report summarises a conference hosted by the Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics (INNOGEN), based in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. The conference brought together people who had been involved in the UK’s public debate on biotechnology in agriculture ("GM Nation") and various interested stakeholders, to discuss the lessons arising from the UK dialogue on GM crops.

The conference pointed to a number of implications for policy makers. For example, the report suggests that focusing discussions on GM crops as a distinct area may be unhelpful, because the issues involved are intimately connected to much wider concerns about agricultural production and consumption worldwide. Reconciling public concerns with national and international regulatory frameworks and restoring public trust in decisions are key challenges.

This report provides a concise and accessible overview of the issues emerging from the UK's experience. It highlights points of consensus and disagreement between different stakeholders and identifies lessons that could be learned about the design and organisation of similar dialogue processes, and the part they might play in supporting future decision making around complex and controversial science and technology issues.

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