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Chapter 37 : The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?

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The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

Social scientists have identified a number of psychological elements that skew perceptions of risk, causing people to inflate small risks or trivialize significant risks. Fact-based risk analysis provides much needed perspective on questions of real and perceived risks. The first step in a risk assessment is identifying the hazard, which is anything that could go wrong or might lead to injury or harm. Effective safeguards can minimize the hazard level, the degree of exposure, or both. Assessing risks is a simple task compared with assessing benefits. Benefits are often very difficult to identify in the abstract. The uncertainty of exposure is one of the reasons risks are discussed in terms of probabilities instead of an absolute assessment of the seriousness of the hazard. Risk management is the set of activities that can be undertaken to control a hazard, minimize exposure, or both. This chapter presents two conceptual formulas that illustrate the first steps in using rational risk analysis to assess and manage risks. It talks about the (Bt) corn ban and the Cornell study to illustrate the value of rational risk analysis. The chapter also presents student activity for assessing risks and benefits as well as regulatory decision making.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37

Key Concept Ranking

Food Safety
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Fruits and Vegetables
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Figures

Image of Figure 37.1
Figure 37.1

Monarch life cycle. (A) Brightly colored black, white, and yellow larvae emerge from eggs and immediately begin to feed on milkweed plant tissues. Like all lepidopteran larvae, monarch larvae molt a number of times as they grow. (Photograph courtesy of the USDA-ARS. Peggy Greb, photographer.) (B) When the larva reaches a certain size, hormonal changes trigger the formation of the pupa. (Photograph courtesy of Herbert A. “Joe” Pase III, Texas Forest Service [http://www.forestryimages.org].) (C) During the pupal stage, the adult butterfly forms. Adult butterflies feed on nectar through highly specialized mouthparts. (Photograph courtesy of the National Biological Information Infrastructure of the U.S. Geological Survey. John Mosesso, photographer.)

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37
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Image of Figure 37.2
Figure 37.2

Monarch life history. Monarchs in most generations in North America live approximately 2 months. The first month consists of immature stages that are not reproductive. The last generation of one summer overwinters and gives rise to the next year's first generation.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37
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Image of Figure 37.3
Figure 37.3

Monarch migration routes. In North America, at the end of the summer, the last generation of butterflies migrates to overwintering sites in California and Mexico.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37
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Image of Figure 37.4
Figure 37.4

Bt proteins. The insecticides in B. thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki are proteins that form crystals (e.g., Cry1A and Cry2A) under certain conditions. The genes encoding the Bt proteins vary within a single strain of the bacterium, as do the shapes of the crystallized proteins they encode.

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37
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Download as Powerpoint
Image of Figure 37.5
Figure 37.5

Geographic distribution of corn-growing areas in the United States. (Map redrawn from USDA-NASS.)

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37
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References

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Tables

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Table 37.1

Natural plant toxins

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37
Generic image for table
Table 37.2

Carcinogenic substances

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37
Generic image for table
Table 37.3

U.S. federal regulatory agencies for transgenic products and processes

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37
Generic image for table
Table 37.4

Relative risks

Citation: Kreuzer H, Massey A. 2008. The Risks of Technology: Perception, Reality, or Both?, p 356-371. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Guide for Students, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817480_ch37

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