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“Unresolved Issues in Public and Community Engagement for the Release of Genetically Modified Organisms into the Environment”

Presented by Dr. David Resnik

There is an emerging consensus among scientists, ethicists, and public health officials that substantive and effective public and community engagement is required prior to releasing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment.  Public and community engagement helps to promote deliberative democracy and support from local populations and the wider public.  Public and community engagement is also often required by local or national laws.  While there is little disagreement about the need to conduct substantive and effective public and community engagement prior to releasing GMOs into the environment, several issues have not been fully resolved, including, how to define the public and the community, how to deal with potential conflicts between the public and community, and how to engage the public and community substantively and effectively.  In this paper, I will examine the moral and political basis for public and community engagement prior to the release of GMOs into the environment and address these unresolved issues.


Dr. Resnik has an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and J.D. from Concord University School of Law. He received his B.A. in philosophy from Davidson College. Dr. Resnik was an Associate and Full Professor of Medical Humanities at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University (ECU) from 1998-2004, and an Associate Director of the Bioethics Center at ECU and University Health Systems from 1998-2004. Dr. Resnik was Assistant and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wyoming (UW) from 1990-1998, and Director of the Center for the Advancement of Ethics at UW from 1995-1998. Dr. Resnik has published over 250 articles and 9 books on various topics in philosophy and bioethics and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He serves on several editorial boards and is an Associate Editor of the journal Accountability in Research. Dr. Resnik was Chair of the NIEHS Institutional Review Board (IRB) from 2008-2019 and is a Certified IRB Professional.