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    Researchers from UiTMLaw and Universitas Semarang Indonesia Collaborate to Investigate Bioethical Issues in Genetically Modified Technology and The Ensuing Human Rights Issues

    Genetically Modified (GM) crops are introduced through GM technology. GM crops diversification can contribute to sustainable agriculture in a warmer world.

    However, concerns about GM crops cover many bioethical issues, including bioethical debates on human rights. Among others, the issues include exploiting the potential benefits of this technology, farm biosecurity and corporate-dominated seed justice. This is further exacerbated by the fact that a handful of multinational corporations control farmers and the respective food chains. There is also a potential risk that genetic pollination of GM seeds can spill over into non-GM crops.

    In view of this, the Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTMLaw) researchers team up with researchers from the Faculty of Law, Universitas Semarang Indonesia (UNNES) to address the ethical aspects of the use of GM crops. The former team comprises of Dr Siti Hafsyah Idris (leader), Dr John Chuah Chong Oon, Assoc Prof Dr Sheela Jayabalan, Mrs Zuhaira Nadiah Zulkipli, Mrs Siti Nuramani Abdul Manab, Mrs Fazlin Mohamed Zain and Mr Nurul Hisham Shamsuddin (PhD student). The latter are represented by Mr Ridwan Arifin (leader), Dr Rodiyah, Dr Ali Masyhar, Dr Indah Sri Utari and Mr Afiqo Putry Agry.

    This collaboration is sponsored by a Matching Grant from both faculties with a total value of RM20,000. Specifically, this research aims to present a legal framework, policy, and good legal practice to guide policymakers in addressing the bioethical issues in GM technology and to identify possible ways to integrate the bioethical issues in their decision-making process of GM technology for the protection of farmers’ rights. The scope will encompass the position in Malaysia and Indonesia.

    Currently, biosafety regulatory measures are gazetted to balance modern biotechnology development and the protection of the environment. The current legal framework covers the procedural process of GM technology which prioritises the development of biotechnology industries over the protection of human rights and the environment. As a result, bioethical considerations are displaced, especially farmers’ rights to livelihood and contractual justice, because they are perceived as descriptive in nature and challenging to translate into practice.

    It is hoped that this international research collaboration will produce a refined legal framework of ethical legal principles to be of practical use for the regulators in both countries to instil ethical compliance in protecting human rights.