Book Review: Compartmentalization and Harmonization of Tort Law in Europe - Damage Caused by GMOs as a Test Case
Journal of European Tort Law, Vol. 3, pp. 123-139, 2011
17 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2011 Last revised: 20 May 2018
Date Written: December 5, 2011
Very few law books are futuristic in the sense that they purport to address imminent risks that have not yet materialized in a notable manner. The recently published Damage Caused by Genetically Modified Organisms, edited by Professor Bernhard Koch, embarks upon such a mission. The extensive volume focuses on damage to persons or property, and environmental harm, thereby complementing a previous study published in the same series three years ago, which dealt with purely economic losses. The book consists of national reports from twenty European and four non-European jurisdictions. The method is similar to that employed in many comparative projects: a standard questionnaire was circulated to and answered by all reporters, and a comparative analysis was compiled by the editor. Supplementary reports encompass applicable international environmental law, choice of law questions in cross-border scenarios, an insurance perspective, and economic analysis of the main issues.
Although the book is generally structured as a sequence of national reports, like most of the previous volumes in the ETL/ECTIL Tort and Insurance Law series, one can break down the sequential analysis of distinct jurisdictions and extract the keystones for fascinating analyses of universal legal and jurisprudential topics. In this Review I would like to focus on two interrelated themes that resonate throughout the book, but are touched on only briefly in the comparative report, namely the existence of and need for (1) a sui generis regime, and (2) transnational harmonization. The first two parts of this Review are descriptive. They aim to elucidate the current state of the relevant law in European countries on the generic-sui generis and diversity-uniformity axes. The remaining parts discuss the policy issues, namely the desirability of a special liability or compensation scheme for damage caused by genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the need for legal unification.
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