Publication date: 28/02/2014


The use of technology and innovation in developing long-term global food security, and ensuring sustainable and adequate food production, is contextualized by values and controversies associated with food technologies. The framing and context of these technologies may impact on consumer perceptions and acceptance.

In some countries this can influence policy decisions. Analysis of the public discourses on the themes of innovationriskpower and control, and their socio-economic and ethical implications, is applied to explain the utility of novel and emerging food technologies. Potential differences in stakeholder interests are taken into account in different economic and regulatory environments, contrasting Europe with the emerging economies of China and India.

In the case of India, there is considerable public debate on finding a balance between various technological choices for food production, viz transgenic, traditional breeding and organic production. In China, the debate about technological innovation is driven largely by political and scientific elites with relatively little consumer debate. European agri-technological innovation is framed by ‘post-productivism’, which informs both implementation strategies and regulatory and governance issues. Economic values cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the European innovation process, in particular in relation to investment and scientific endeavour.

This report by Global Ethics in Science and Technology (GEST) aims to identify the nature of ethical debates on food technologies in Europe, India and China and to compare how these are addressed by stakeholders in the different regions. It highlights how ethical issues reach the public and political agenda in the area of food; how and to what extent food ethics is incorporated into official government decision-making structures; how other actors or stakeholders including regulators, innovators, producers, consumers etc., deal with ethical issues related to food technology together with any structures or processes implemented to promote public trust.

Resource type: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)