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In the process, the National Biotechnology Committee, CBAC's predecessor, proposed the creation of a new consultative body that would more directly engage issues of public confidence in biotechnology (Kuyek, 2002: 73-74).
Broadly speaking, CBAC's mandate is to advise the federal government on policy issues "related to the development and application of biotechnology in Canada associated with the ethical, social, regulatory, economic, environmental and health aspects of biotechnology" (CBAC 2002c).
The RSC's main findings, including the need for significantly more stringent regulatory practices, provide some crucial context for interpreting CBAC's subsequent work.
By subjecting CBAC to the normative ideals of the public sphere, this case study provides a lens on the health of public debate on GM food in Canada.
CBAC defines itself as an "expert advisory body" though its membership has included limited lay representation.
Critics have alleged that the nomination procedure used in selecting CBAC members is biased against experts critical of biotechnology.
Partly in protest of the perceived bias in the nomination procedure, Greenpeace, the Council of Canadians, and other NGOs boycotted participation in CBAC's consultations.
CBAC' s composition thus tends to violate the principle of inclusiveness as an ideal of the public sphere.
From CBAC's inception, the committee identified GM food as a priority for study.
By participating, NGOs would legitimize CBAC's narrow-problem definition and compromise their core position.
The NGOs presented a petition to the government of Canada during the first of CBAC's stakeholder workshops, citing concerns with the consultation process and CBAC's lack of independence.
At the conclusion of public consultations on the GM food initiative, CBAC struck an independent, multi-stakeholder "Exploratory Committee" to further develop the Acceptability Spectrum.
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