New Science of Food : Facing up to Our Biotechnology Choices

The New Science of Food

WASHINGTON D.C., April 7, 2003: Farm Foundation today released The New Science of Food: Facing Up to Our Biotechnology Choices , a new book to help the public address the use of biotechnology tools in the production of food.

The science of biotechnology has generated some of the most significant breakthroughs of the century, creating new characteristics in plants or animals through the transfer of genetic material from other plants or animals. “Biotechnology has generated dynamic tools to enhance production of food. The leaps made by this technology have also raised personal and societal concerns that must be addressed. It is important that the public is comfortable with the quality and safety of the food system,” says Farm Foundation President Walter Armbruster.

The New Science of Food does not promote or oppose biotechnology, but presents a framework for use in public discussions on biotechnology and the food system. Such discussions are a critical component in development of public policies for all stakeholders in the food chain?from farmers to consumers.

“The book provides a framework for examining the breadth of the public discussion on the issue,” explains Mark Edelman of Iowa State University, who co-authored the book with David Patton of Ohio State University. “This framework provides a way for people to learn about the issues and the views of others as they consider their own preferences for policies regarding food and biotechnology.”

The book offers three approaches. “The first emphasizes business enterprise and science; the second, public health and environmental safety. The third emphasizes information and flexibility to change,” Edelman continues.

The authors began by working through an issue-framing process with a diverse set of citizen participants. With issues identified, the authors then collected and verified information from a variety of sources, including science, media, and people representing diverse interests on the issues, categorizing the comments and viewpoints into the framework. The New Science of Food is written to be appropriate for a wide range of deliberation groups.

“This book is very much in keeping with the philosophy of Farm Foundation. We work as a catalyst, linking diverse stakeholders in efforts to build information for the public policy process. We do not advocate specific policy viewpoints. We promote understanding of the relationships among natural resources, human capital, technology, institutions and society,” Armbruster explained.

Farm Foundation prepared the publication in collaboration with the National Issues Forums Institute ( ), a nationwide network of educational and civic organizations that consider public policy issues.

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