PR - The Use Of Technology Assessment (TA) In The Food-chain From “Farm To Fork
The introduction of GMO crops in the EU has been and is a matter of severe controversy. First and foremost consumers, often represented by NGO’s, have been known to be extremely negative towards the introduction. With the EU legislation in place allowing import of and tillage with GMO it is only a matter of time before farmers and food manufacturing companies are forced to relate their strategies to this new technology. This paper focuses on Technology Assessment (TA) in a food chain perspective. So far Technology Assessments have mainly been applied for targeted cases with partial stakeholders such as farmers or consumers but seldom in a holistic chain perspective from “farm to fork”. Trough the food chain a main focus for enterprises and farmers are cost verses benefits but also assessment of opportunities for competitive advantage and outright threats will be of major importance in relation to this new GMO technology. Also the managers of the 21st century will need to be more aware of, and sensitive to, the social concerns related to developing and implementing gene technology within food products. If these matters are not addressed by decision makers GMO’s in the EU is likely to fail as a commodity. By making an overall Technology Assessment, enterprises stand to make better informed choices regarding their optimal actions to secure their own future and gain a competitive advantage. If, for instance, the enterprise Monsanto had conducted holistic Technology Assessments in a chain perspective prior to a market introduction of GMO crops, it might have faired better. In matters concerning GMO’s, failure to incorporate such aspects as social acceptance and politics can at best be expensive for the enterprise or individual farmer - in worst case it can be detrimental to the very existence of a company. The outcome of this paper is an overview of suitable methods that has been or in the future can be used for Technology Assessment in a food chain perspective. By combining the most suitable methods the concept is moved towards a dedicated common framework for Technology Assessment in food chains from “farm to fork”. This framework includes social, ethical and political issues and can be utilised by farmers and enterprises as a tool in order to quickly and efficiently assess the consequences of actions and relate to food chains in an improved way. By conducting Technology Assessment in a chain perspective which integrates economy with social and political issues we believe that a powerful new and highly useful tool is provided to the farmers and enterprises of tomorrow.
Keywords: GMO crops, NGOs, Technology assessment , food chains.