The Freedom Tooperate Problem

As noted in the introduction, biotechnology applications have been used for centuries. The term biotechnology was first used to describe traditional activities that involved various techniques for using living things to make products or provide services (Grace, 1997). These activities had agricultural, medical, environmental, and other applications. It is, therefore, an umbrella term that includes aspects of engineering, basic sciences, humanities, commerce, and other disciplines. Agricultural biotechnology has this same multidisciplinary aspect but its applications are of particular interest to consumers since their lives are impacted on a daily basis through the food supply. Agricultural biotechnology has also been applied for centuries through "conventional" crop and animal breeding, which over time has drastically altered the traits displayed by the crops and animals that farmers choose to produce. The production of new crop varieties is, however, increasingly relying on "nonconventional," or recombinant, techniques to alter traits. It is this GE of plants critical to the food supply that is currently causing consumers concern and not biotechnology per se. A related concern among many consumers is that IPRs may cause power to accrue to groups in society who have preferential access to the technology. The following subsections draw upon Fig. 15-1 for exploring in greater detail the six technical requirements of GE in order that the potential for strategically employing these items can be determined.

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