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Risk communication related to animal products derived from biotechnology

Author(s) : D. McCrea

Summary :

Previous chapters of this review have dealt with the key considerations related to the application of biotechnology in veterinary science and animal production. This article explores the theory and practice of risk communication and sets out the basic principles for good risk communication when dealing with new technologies, uncertainty, and cautious and sceptical consumers. After failure to communicate with consumers and stakeholders about the risk to human health from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the 1990s, Government Agencies in the United Kingdom have made significant improvements in risk communication. The official inquiry that followed the BSE crisis concluded that a policy of openness was the correct approach, and this article emphasises the importance of consultation, consistency and transparency. There are, however, many different factors that affect public perception of risk (religious, political, social, cultural, etc.) and developing effective risk communication strategies must take all of these complex issues into consideration.

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