The Shifting Roles of the EU, the US and California
Edited by David Vogel and Johan Swinnen
Chapter 7: US versus EU Biotechnology Regulations and Comparative Advantage: Implications for Future Conflicts and Trade
Gal Hochman, Gordon C. Rausser and David Zilberman INTRODUCTION In 1953, based on X-ray diffraction images taken by Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick and James D. Watson discovered the first accurate model of DNA structure. This research led to the birth of molecular biology, whereby methods to purify DNA from organisms and manipulate it in laboratories are used. Modern biology and biochemistry make intensive use of these methods in recombinant DNA technology. The genetically modified organisms (GMOs) produced can then be used to produce proteins (in medical research) or be grown in staple crops (that is, agricultural biotechnology or ‘ag biotech’). These techniques are also used in non-food agricultural production (for instance, in biodegradable plastic and biofuel) and for environmental uses. Whereas all nations have endorsed biotechnology applied to medical processes, nations have taken different approaches to regulating biotechnology applied to crop production, where the regulatory framework ranges from promotional to preventive. These differences lead to variations among nations in the utilization of ag biotech. The analysis presented in this chapter suggests that these variations are a product of the institutional and the competitive setup. The balance of this chapter is organized into five remaining sections. An overview of ag biotech is presented in the next section. In providing an overview, we discuss the benefits from biotechnology and its impact on both crop production and the environment. We identify two key facets in the development of a rapidly changing, science-based industry: innovation and regulation. To this end, we move on to...
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