Shaping New Zealand's biotechnology future
“Governments should … review and, where appropriate, improve the processes of decision-making so as to achieve the progressive integration of economic, social and environmental issues in the pursuit of development that is economically efficient, socially equitable and responsible and environmentally sound.”
Article 8.4, Agenda 21, United Nations Earth Summit, 1992.
Recent advances in biotechnology have sparked controversy and concern about just what scientists are doing in the labs and how this science is used commercially. This high level of public interest in the science industry has thrown up major issues for business and policymakers as they try to take account of the wide range of often conflicting viewpoints in their decision-making.
The Government has identified biotechnology as a key priority for New Zealand’s future, and a multi-disciplinary team of researchers across five universities and one Crown Research Institute is engaged in a five-year study which aims to connect science and society by sharing ideas, perspectives and knowledge through dialogue processes. The results of the research will help in the design of frameworks that will shape New Zealand’s biotechnology future.
Professor Richard Varey, Professor Jim Barker and Associate Professor Jarrod Haar, with contributions from Professor Kay Weaver and Dr Alison Henderson, have extensively examined the socio-economic and cultural impacts of biotechnology in New Zealand through surveys, literature reviews, focus groups, case studies, ‘rich pictures’ and dialogue forums. The researchers have sought to develop ways to create a better understanding of the benefits and risks of biotechnology, and to develop constructive engagement between people in the community and in the biotechnology sector.
As well as producing timely data, the project has stimulated debate and research around the subject of science communication, social learning, and public engagement in social issue decision-making.
External funding gratefully acknowledged: Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.
DEPARTMENT OF MARKETING
DEPARTMENT OF STRATEGY AND HUMAN RESOURCE
DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATION
WAIKATO MANAGEMENT SCHOOL