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Risk assessment of genetically modified food and neoliberalism: an argument for democratizing the regulatory review protocol of the Food and Drug Administration

By Z. Meghani

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Abstract

The primary responsibility of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to protect public health by ensuring the safety of the food supply. To that end, it sometimes conducts risk assessments of novel food products, such as genetically modified (GM) food. The FDA describes its regulatory review of GM food (of both the plant and the animal variety) as a purely scientific activity, untainted by any normative considerations. This paper provides evidence that the regulatory agency is not justified in making that claim. It is argued that the FDA's policy stance on GM food is shaped by neoliberal considerations. The agency's review of a genetically engineered animal, the AquAdvantage salmon, is used as a case study to track the influence of neoliberalism on its regulatory review protocol. After that, an epistemic argument justifying public engagement in the risk assessment of new GM food is outlined. It is because risk evaluations involve normative judgments, in a democracy, layperson representatives of informal epistemic communities that could be affected by a new GM food should have the opportunity to decide the ethical, political or other normative questions that arise during the regulatory review of that entity.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 27
Issue 6
Pages 967-989
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
Publisher Springer
DOI 10.1007/s10806-014-9511-1
Language English
Author Address Philosophy Department, University of Rhode Island, 170 Chafee Hall, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA.meghaniz@mail.uri.edu
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Tags
  1. Agencies and organizations
  2. Animals
  3. APEC countries
  4. Aquacultural and fisheries
  5. Case Report
  6. Communities
  7. Contamination
  8. Democracy
  9. Developed countries
  10. Economics
  11. Ethics
  12. Fish
  13. Food economics
  14. Food policy
  15. Foods
  16. Food safety
  17. Genetically engineered foods
  18. Genetic engineering
  19. Laws and regulations
  20. North America
  21. OECD countries
  22. participation
  23. peer-reviewed
  24. Policy and Planning
  25. public
  26. regulations
  27. residues
  28. Risk Assessment
  29. Social psychology and social anthropology
  30. toxicology
  31. transgenics
  32. United States of America
  33. vertebrates
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  1. peer-reviewed