Agricultural Biotechnology and the Future Benefits Argument

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Abstract

In the face of criticisms about the current generationof agricultural biotechnology products, some proponents ofagricultural biotechnology offer a ``future benefitsargument''(FBA), which is a utilitarian ethical argument thatattempts to justify continued R&D. This paper analyzes severallogical implications of the FBA. Among these are that acceptanceof the FBA implies (1) acceptance of a precautionary approach torisk, (2) the need for a more proportional and equitabledistribution of the benefits of agricultural biotechnology, andmost important, (3) the need to reorient and restructurebiotechnology R&D institutions (and the agriculturalbiotechnology community's values and attitudes) so that futurebenefits are indeed achieved through agricultural biotechnology.