DNA, Biotechnology and Society


Eighteenth Annual Darwin College Lecture Series 2003

Lecture 6   :   21 February 2003

Professor Malcolm Grant

Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge


What is it that shapes social attitudes towards advances in biotechnology? Why have GM crops, now so widely grown in North America, Argentina and China, met with such resistance in Europe? The breadth of the issues, the divergence of the underlying values, public mistrust of Government and the polarisation of the debate within Europe, all suggest that the science-technology-society relationship is today far more complex than that identified by CP Snow in his famous "two cultures" lecture in Cambridge in 1959. This lecture will explore these issues against the dynamics of public debate over the potential commercialisation of GM crops in the UK.


Malcolm Grant, a barrister, is Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Land Economy at Cambridge University, and a fellow of Clare College. He is an environmental lawyer and in 2000 was appointed to be Chair of the Government's new 20-member Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, whose job is to provide strategic advice to the Government on the implications of biotechnology (including genetic modification) for agriculture and the environment. He was recently also appointed by the Government to lead the national public debate on GM, to assist in policy-making around issues such as the commercial growing of GM crops in the UK.

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