The Evolution Of Trade Policy On Gmos In Europe
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The European Union has a reputation for holding strict genetically modified (GM) safety standards. Yet, there seems to be some dispute about it being a barrier to trade. There are political questions about how public engagement is interconnected with trade negotiations in regards to genetically modified organisms and biosafety standards. The concept of biosafety, as outlined in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, is interpreted as “…the need to protect human health and the environment from the possible adverse effects of the products of modern biotechnology”. Thus, the question being researched and discussed is: how has EU regulatory and trade policy on biosafety and GMOs evolved in the early 2000s? Public engagement on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) policies in Europe, is a topic worth researching because GMO biosafety (the prevention of large-scale loss of biological integrity, focusing both on ecology and human health) is a sensitive topic for consumers, government, trade negotiations, transnational corporations and biotech companies. Examining the European Union’s stance on GMO regulations and how public engagement has shaped trade negotiations regarding the controversial topic of genetically modified organisms and biosafety standards through the analysis of laws, directives and regulations is imperative. Specifically, the regulatory regime for genetically modified organisms consists of provisions which grant the public formal rights of participation. Participatory approaches both to science policy and regulation so far have been proposed mainly to prevent technocracy, improve democratic accountability, and encourage dialogue between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Growing anti-GM opinions in Europe have forced a change in the European Union’s policy on GMO authorizations and led to a de facto moratorium in late 1998 on new GMO approvals and imports. In fact, public participation in the evolution and implementation of a national biosafety system may be the most significant factor in determining the level of public confidence in risk assessment and management of GMOs. This is important to understand because it has led to the shift in European policy that provoked the first major international trade conflict over GMO safety policies. The relationship between trade and genetically modified organisms is difficult to separate because the biotech industry drives companies to lobby for rules which create strong incentives towards market access. Moreover, the degree of policy freedom attainable to state decision-makers regarding biotechnology tends to be confined by international rules responsive to the needs of GM exporters.