Law, Technology and Public Contestations in Europe
Biotechnology Regulation series
Chapter 2: The EU legal framework for GMO regulation
EU law regulates the development and use of GMOs through allocating responsibilities to different authorities, public and private, accompanied by limited recognition of rights of public information, consultation and participation. As elaborated later in the chapter, a case-by-case examination of the risks of new GMOs, which are sought to be released for cultivation or other market purposes, is slotted between restrictions on contained use for research, and post-release specifications like labelling, traceability, coexistence and liability. This places GMO regulation within the interstices of EU environmental law, consumer law, agricultural law, food safety law and, of course, general internal market law. This chapter attempts a cursory description of EU legislation that provides the framework for EU regulation of GMOs, and to identify the room provided for public participation, consultation and information in such regulation. The EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) makes EU regulation of science and technology, including GMOs, subject to the general rights and protection offered by the Convention. The European Charter of Fundamental Rights, which emphasizes that the Union is founded on the indivisible and universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity, and on the principles of democracy and the rule of law, is recognized as part of the broad ethical framework in the EU regulation of research, development and use of science and technology. Specific insistence on public participation in EU decision-making is mostly absent in the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the TFEU and the ECHR.
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