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NIFA Invests Over $1M in Economic and Social Implications of Food and Agricultural Technologies

Examining the economic and social implications of technology is a form of technology assessment that anticipates the unforeseen and unintended consequences of technological innovation, including cultural, health, welfare, equity, ethical, and environmental impacts. A critical lesson learned from past experiences with the application of scientific discoveries and technological innovations to agricultural production is that public trust in science begins with and requires ongoing transparency and open deliberation. Technologies such as gene drives and genome editing, big data, nanotechnology, autonomous technologies and novel foods have tremendous capability in shaping the future of agriculture, requiring the scientific community to develop effective means of communicating and engaging with the public. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommended that for these innovations to become applicable to agriculture, there should be a dialogue between scientists, legal scholars, bioethicists, social scientists, the public, and other stakeholders to assess the merits and risks of new technologies and scientific discoveries.

Project Highlights
  • New Mexico State University will host The Appreciative Inquire and Community Capital Summit: Creating a Shared Vision of a Resilient Food System in order to solicit stakeholder knowledge and goals about food production distribution and consumer consumption, develop a shared vision of a resilient food network capable of improving food safety and variety enhancing health and nutrition and expanding prosperity and profitability; and incorporate deliberations into project proposals to address the knowledge gaps.
  • North Carolina State University will assess the societal implications of genetic engineering (GE) and nanotechnology used in food and agriculture (agri-food) and identifies strategies to ensure their sustainable futures according to diverse stakeholder perspectives. The project will assess societal implications and improve decisions of GE- and nano-agri-foods through benefit-risk evaluations; identify strategies to ensure sustainable futures of GE- and nano-agri-foods through stakeholder engagement and exchange; and develop interdisciplinary education and training opportunities to better evaluate societal implications of novel agri-food technologies.

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