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AFRI – FAS Social Implications of Food and Agricultural Technologies (A1642)
Program Area Priority: Examining the 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, and pursue open and participatory approaches to meaningfully engage with potentially impacted communities about these issues.