We Reap What We Sow: The Legal Liability Risks of Genetically Modified Food

Journal of Legal Studies in Business, Vol. 16, pp. 149-177, 2010

29 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2010 Last revised: 10 Nov 2012

Debra M. Strauss

Fairfield University - Charles F. Dolan School of Business

Date Written: November 20, 2010

Abstract

Are the supposed benefits of genetically modified foods worth the risks? One of the most significant risks to consider is future liability from lawsuits, including lawsuits by and against farmers and/or biotechnology companies for possible harm and economic loss caused by bioengineered food crops. Most recently, the theory of liability for contamination has been successfully applied by the courts in the landmark LibertyLink® rice lawsuits on behalf of farmers whose fields have been contaminated with unwanted genetically modified organisms (GMOs) due to outcrossing and migration, imposing multimillion dollar jury verdicts on the biotech company for its negligence. In view of the scientific uncertainty and potential for harm, consumer claims for injuries may also arise in the future from the failure to warn of the presence of genetically engineered components. After exploring the potential liability of GMOs and analyzing significant cases, this article will discuss measures to manage these risks, proposing a regulatory approach of labeling, monitoring, and a stringent pre-market approval process; and legislation to mandate liability. Through this risk analysis, the industry might be persuaded that safety is good business to ensure that, in the long-run, they continue to reap what they sow.

Keywords: GMOs, Food and Drug Law, Biotechnology, Genetic Engineering, Genetically Modified Organisms, Bioengineering, Genetically Modified Food, Litigation, Lawsuits, Torts, Product Liability, International Law, FDA, USDA, Environmental Contamination

Suggested Citation

Strauss, Debra M., We Reap What We Sow: The Legal Liability Risks of Genetically Modified Food (November 20, 2010). Journal of Legal Studies in Business, Vol. 16, pp. 149-177, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1712429

Debra M. Strauss (Contact Author)

Fairfield University - Charles F. Dolan School of Business ( email )

1073 N. Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824-5195
United States
203-254-4000 ext. 3160 (Phone)

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