Table of Contents

Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law

Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law

Research Handbooks in European Law series

Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Michael N. Cardwell

Following the conclusion of the latest round of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2013, the Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law provides an up-to-date discussion of these reforms and the changing landscape in which the CAP now operates.

Chapter 16: Co-existence of genetically modified organisms in the European Union: A veritable choice for whom?

Mary Dobbs

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, law - academic, environmental law, european law


The cultivation of GMOs in the European Union (EU) has implications for the organization of agricultural production. On the one hand, the possibility of the unintended presence of genetically modified (GM) crops in non-GM crops (conventional and organic), raises the question as to how producer choice for the different production types can be ensured . . . On the other hand, the issue is also linked to consumer choice. The European model of agriculture reflects the multifunctional role farming plays in the richness and diversity of landscapes, food products and cultural and natural heritage. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) interacts with a wide range of regimes and issues, relating to land use, interests of farmers and consumers, environmental protection and health protection amongst others, with recent developments reflecting the long recognition of the importance of integrating environmental protection and social cohesion. A parallel regime raising similar issues, but regulated independently, is the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The conflicts here are heightened due to the scientific uncertainty which surrounds them and the potential threats posed by, and moral debates over, interfering with nature, as against the potential benefits from GM crops and acceptance of other related processes or products. The GM regime also exemplifies the challenges faced in attempting to achieve high harmonization in respect of some aspects, whilst facilitating national or regional controls in respect of others.

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