The Risks of Environmental Democracy
The past twenty years has seen the publication of more than 1,800 research papers on the only genetically engineered veterinary drug or growth hormone used to increase the production of milk in dairy cows, rBST (Powell & Leiss, 1997, 124).34 Regulatory agencies in at least thirty-one countries have publicly announced that all foods produced from animals with rBST technology are safe for human consumption (P. Thompson, 1998b). Breaking with its departmental policy of keeping internal decisionmaking processes confidential, the United States’ FDA explained in an academic journal the methodology it used to conclude that milk from rBST cows is as safe as and no different than milk from cows not treated with the growth hormone (Juskevich & Guyer, 1990). The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a press statement—on November 5, 1993, nine years after the initial application by the St. Louis based Monsanto Corporation— explaining that even though rBST had no human health or environmental risks, there was a moratorium on sales until Congress could consider all impacts of the new biotechnology (Powell & Leiss, 1997). In additional to all of these communications, there was extensive media coverage of the first major product of agricultural biotechnology to move from the laboratory to the farm.
KeywordsRisk Communication Agricultural Biotechnology Deliberative Democracy Communicative Competence General Account Office
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