Food Ethics pp 67-85 | Cite as

Responsible Agro-Food Biotechnology: Precaution as Public Reflexivity and Ongoing Engagement in the Service of Sustainable Development



In Europe, agro-food biotechnologies arouse a lot of controversy. The scope of issues debated during the past four decades of their development has been extending rather than shrinking. And it looks as if many of these issues have been transferred to other new and emergent technologies. This paper considers the adequacy of Europe’s regulatory reaction – in the way it interprets and uses the precautionary principle – to respond to these issues. It argues that a fundamental re-interpretation of this principle is needed. It should be re-linked to the guiding idea of sustainable development. This re-linking implies a collective engagement, construction of projections for the future, and a continuous learning process of responsible acting.


Public Debate Precautionary Principle Genetically Modify Organism Societal Context Wide Public 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute Society and Technology – Flemish ParliamentBrusselsBelgium

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