Stakeholder views on issues to consider when assessing the sustainability of genetically modified potato



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The importance of assessing socio-economic and sustainability aspects of genetically modified (GM) crops is increasingly recognized by policy-makers, both within the EU and internationally. Nevertheless, experience has shown that it is challenging to assess and implement these aspects in actual decision-making processes.

This paper argues that stakeholder engagement may provide valuable insights when developing frameworks for sustainability assessment of GM crops. We organized two stakeholder workshops with the aim to gather perspectives on the sustainability of cultivating late blight resistant (LBR) GM potato in Norway. Sixteen Norwegian stakeholders involved in potato production and in agriculture in general took part in the workshops. Here, we present and discuss the outcomes of this participatory approach.

The stakeholders identified several conditions that an LBR GM potato ought to satisfy in order to contribute to sustainable development. These conditions concerned environmental and health safety aspects of cultivating LBR GM potato, potential for fungicide reductions, durability of the LBR GM potato plant’s resistance, farmers’ profitability and consumer acceptance. In addition, the stakeholders considered issues such as maintenance of a diversity of potato cultivars, transparency during product development and risk assessment processes, ownership and control and opportunity for independent risk research as important considerations in a sustainability assessment. While focusing on a specific application of agricultural biotechnology, we believe that these findings are useful contributions to the ongoing efforts to develop frameworks and guidelines for assessing sustainability and socio-economic considerations of GM crops in general.

Gillund, F.Myhr, A., Audrun Utskarpen & Angelika Hilbeck (2016). “Stakeholder views on issues to consider when assessing the sustainability of genetically modified potato, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.
DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2016.1140013