Biotechnology Law (2005): Current Survey of Substantive EU Environmental Law
THE YEARBOOK OF EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, VOLUME 7, pp. 287-332, T.F.M. Etty & H. Somsen, eds., Oxford University Press, 2007
48 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2010
Date Written: February 1, 2006
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: 2005.
Introduction: The survey year 2005 did not bring quite what it had promised. Perhaps most illustrative was the repeated failure of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Panel to conclude its position in the ongoing international trade war on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Following a series of delays, the much anticipated ruling is now expected for the beginning of next year. In the meantime, the trade rift was brought to new heights when the world was confronted with the accidental introduction and global distribution of an unlawful GMO under the label of its authorized sibling product. While the immediate hazard posed by the escape may have been minimized, the incident has done little to calm tensions about the risks involved with modern biotechnology, or to ease concerns over the regulatory management of those risks.
At the European Union (EU) level, following tumultuous years involving the adoption of a range of new legislation, progress has now tempered to a slow but steady pace. During 2005, the Commission has persevered in its determination to resume the evaluation and authorization of new GMOs on the Community market, despite the persisting divide between Member States. However, the lack of democratic political support for the Commission’s approval of GMO commodities is beginning to catch up with it, as 2005 saw the first qualified majority voting block by the Member States against the Commission in nearly a decade. Moreover, it is telling that the Commission has faced this first joint opposition in defiance of its attempt to impede on Member States’ autonomy to take precautionary measures against GMOs. .
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, trade, GM trees, climate change, Kyoto, European environmental policy, Precautionary principle
JEL Classification: K32, K33, K39, K23, K10, K13, K19, K00, O13, Q17, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation