Multilevel Governance of GMO and Non-GMO Coexistence: Filling the Gap in the EU Regulatory Regime on Agricultural Biotechnology
Thijs F. M. Etty
VU University Amsterdam - Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), and VU Law Faculty, Transnational Legal Studies Department
December 1, 2009
2009 Amsterdam Conference on 'Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change: Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet', Panel Architecture 12: Governing Biotechnology, Amsterdam/Volendam, The Netherlands, December 2-4, 2009
The dense network of EU law and policy on agricultural-biotechnology and GMOs is widely considered to be the world’s most comprehensive and stringent regulatory regime. Yet, closer inspection reveals a regulatory gap at this regime’s heart. Contrary to longstanding trends of growing centralization and increasingly exhaustive harmonization for GMO-regulation generally, cultivation of GM-crops has been left largely un-regulated at EU-level.
The resultant legislative-lacuna centers on the concept of ‘coexistence’, referring to regulatory and technical-agronomic measures to ensure that GM-crop cultivation can ‘peacefully coexist’ with established conventional/non-GMO and organic farming-practices, and prescriptions on who will bear responsibility for calamities. Due to GMO-labeling-requirements and consumer-skepticism, Europe has both market-demand and regulatory need for segregation between GM and non-GM supply-chains. Since total isolation of transgenic-material is practically impossible, and some admixture inevitable, it is now broadly accepted coexistence cannot simply be left to the market, but requires some form of organization, if not government regulation. Distinctly less consensual and straightforward are questions of who should regulate coexistence, and how.
This paper analyses how this central regulatory gap is currently being filled. Constructive critique of tensions between national-autonomy/subsidiarity and centralization/harmonization, and ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ law approaches feeds into policy-recommendations to overcome these pressing dilemmas.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: EU law, EC policy, precauationary principle environmental policy, biotechnology, GMO, transgenic, risk regulation, safeguard ban, Renationalization, ECJ, comitology, WTO, trade, morality clauses, coexistence , multilevel governance
JEL Classification: K32, K33, K39, K23, K10, K13, K19, K00, O13, Q17, Q18
Date posted: December 17, 2010