Biotechnology Law (2002): Current Survey of Substantive EU Environmental Law
THE YEARBOOK OF EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, Vol. 4, T.F.M. Etty & H. Somsen, eds., Oxford University Press, 2004
18 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2010
Date Written: February 1, 2003
Overview of recent (EU and international) legal and political developments in the regulatory field of agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and GM food governance. Year under review: 2002.
Introduction: For the policy area of biotechnology, the survey year 2002 was something of a transitory period. Many developments in law and policy built on the major progress of the foregoing two years, which included the adoption of a revised directive on deliberate environmental release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the conclusion of an international protocol on biosafety. Other developments prepared for important advances in the coming year(s), including proposed regulations on genetically modified (GM) food and feed, and on their traceability and labelling, on transboundary movement of GMOs, and a proposed directive on environmental liability.
However, since the journey is often as important as the ultimate destination, the year was by no means stagnant.
One vital objective for the Commission, during 2002, was to set the stage for a lifting of the de facto moratorium on GM foods and crops in the European Union (EU). In place since 1998, the moratorium has caused the Commission increasing headaches, in particular with a view to the looming and intensifying threat of an international trade dispute. The United States of America (US) continued to step up pressure on the EU to lift the allegedly illegal trade ban, threatening to initiate a dispute-settlement proceeding in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Given estimates that US farmers have lost hundreds of millions of dollars each year in exports to the EU, since 1998, the prospect of litigation was cause for serious those rules, as laid down in its July 2001 legislative proposals, could voluntarily be implemented by industry prior to their adoption, was also rejected by the Ministers.
Despite Commissioners’ predictions that the approval process for GMOs in the EU would recommence on 17 October, with the entry into force of the revised Deliberate Release Directive, by the end of 2002, the de facto moratorium was still firmly in place.
Keywords: GMO, biotechnology, GM food, coexistence, risk regulation, environmental liability, EU law, EC environmental law, Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, labelling, contained use, case law, life sciences, WTO, European environmental policy, Precautionary principle
JEL Classification: K32, K33, K39, K23, K10, K13, K19, K00, O13, Q17, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation