Resolutions Submitted to the
American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology:
Impact of Applications to Families
Whereas, there is an understanding that technologies have costs, risks, and benefits associated with them that may not be distributed evenly across different populations, and
Whereas, there is a disparity in the scientific community on the goals of genetically engineered and biotechnologically developed products, and
Whereas, the schism between the natural and social sciences is becoming nonexistent because there is a growing appreciation that changes in genetic engineering and biotechnology simultaneously affect social change, and
Whereas, genetic engineering and biotechnology techniques have been used for many years in U.S. agricultural developments, those Transogenic products are open to question in the areas of food safety, storage, processing, and nutritional benefits, and
Whereas, developments in the field of genetically engineered and biotechnologically altered foods present challenges to the family's food supply and safety, and
Whereas, genetic engineering and biotechnology developments in agriculture increase the nutritional value of food and reduce the need for the use of chemicals to eliminate pests and weeds,
Therefore Be It Resolved that the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences supports dialogue, education, collaboration, investigation, research, and value identification in the growing arena of genetic engineering and biotechnology, and
Be It Further resolved that the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences will work together at the federal, state, and local levels to maximize the understanding and enhancement of the well-being of families as genetic engineering and biotechnology advances.
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology: Rationale
The research advances made over the past twenty years have moved genetic engineering and biotechnology onto the American and world landscapes. The public has long accepted new technology as being beneficial without much challenge. There is a growing understanding that new technologies have costs, risks, and benefits associated that are not necessarily distributed evenly across the population.
In November 2000, funding was increased to the U.S. Agency for International Development to use genetic engineering and biotechnology to battle hunger in developing nations. Biotech crops have been grown in the United States since 1996 and currently account for one-half of the nation's soybean crop production. Through genetic research, corn varieties are producing a product that is more disease resistant and more pest resistant, thus potentially lowering the need to use chemicals. The understanding of genetics allows a crops like rice to be altered to include Vitamin A, a boon to undernourished children in the developing world. The issue is the acceptability and cultural values of genetically altered foods.
In the human arena, as genetic research increases knowledge about specific genes, what those genes control, how they work, and how they are passed on to future generations will be identified. In the area of health, test tube babies, cloned children, and genetically superior children, raise moral and ethical questions of ethics and individuality. The Human Genome Project is an international effort to identify and map all human genes. And, genetic knowledge can alter family dynamics in ways unimagined. Certain cancers have been found to be genetically passed on from generation to generation. If some family members are tested for the presence of the gene and others decide not to be, what effects will those decisions have on family dynamics?
The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences can be instrumental in helping create dialogue on the social, ethical, and commercial applications of genetic engineering and biotechnology. AAFCS has the expertise to build relationships and enjoin community involvement in examining the issues inherent in genetic engineering and biotechnology.
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology: References
AAFCS Public Policy Alert, American Association Family and Consumer Sciences, Alexandria, VA, November, 2000.
"Agricultural Biotechnology: An Executive Summary of the Critical Issues and Recommended Responses from theLand-Grant Universities," National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges: Washington, DC, Fall 2000.
"Agricultural Biotechnology: Critical Issues and Recommended Responses from the Land-Grant Universities," National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges: Washington, DC, Spring 2000.
Anderson, Clifton E. (March-April 2000) Dangers and Opportunities. The Futurist.
Ervin, David E., et al. (November 2000). Transogenic Crops: An Environmental Assessment, Henry A. Wallace Center for Agricultural and Environmental Policy at Winrock International.
Frankel, Mark S., Ph.D. Thinking Ethically About Families, Communities, and Technology. .Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences: From Research to Practice. Vol. 92, Issue 4, 2000, p 16-21.
"Mission Uncertain: Reassessing America's Global Role", Kitchen Forum, National Issues Forums Institute, OH.
Nash, Zurich, J. Grains of hope. Time Magazine. July 31, 2000. Vol.156, no.5.
Palumbi, Stephen R. (April 13, 2001). The high-stakes battle over brute-force genetic engineering. Chronicle of Higher Education. B7-B9.
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology: Impact Statement
Genetic engineering and biotechnology touches every life, virtually every day. Every Nation on earth will feel the impact of genetic engineering and biotechnology. There would be a positive effect on the Association and its members in encouraging increased collaborative efforts, providing research and data to further the dialogue and determine effects, and involving citizens at the local level in discussion and decision-making about the implications and effects of genetic engineering and biotechnology. Through the resolution process, all members of the profession can contribute research, encourage dialogue, and help define implications and alternatives for families to use in making sound decisions consistent with family values, beliefs, and culture.
Passage of this resolution would not impact the AAFCS budget because:
- A collaborative effort would engage partnerships from a wide array of disciplines and allow the Association to advocate on behalf of families;
- Distribution of this resolution and other materials related to this issue to AAFCS members and affiliated organizations would occur through existing channels;
- Passage of this resolution would not require any additional headquarters staff;
- Funds to support any new state or national program initiative would have to be approved through already existing channels;
- Any and all costs associated with this resolution would be included in the Public Policy Budget to cover networking costs, postage, copying, telephone/fax, and posting information to the AAFCS website.
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology:
Suggested Implementation Strategies
- Distribute information broadly to the membership through current channels on the status of current legislation and funding opportunities in the area of genetic engineering and biotechnology.
- Post information and updates on genetic engineering and biotechnology on the AAFCS website.
- Coordinate with the Board of Directors, the Affiliate Presidents' Unit, the Public Policy Committee, related Association Action Groups and headquarters staff to ensure that support for these activities is delivered to, among others:
- a. The President of the U.S.
b. Appropriate Executive Branch agency staff
c. U.S. Senators
d. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
e. Other key staff of public officials
f. USDA and other affiliated organizations and agencies.
g. State and Community Leaders