Scientific Revolution Meets Policy and the Market: Explaining Cross-National Differences in Agricultural Biotechnology Regulation
European Journal of Political Research, Vol. 42, No.5, pp. 643-683
CIES Discussion Paper No. 0144
Posted: 8 Jan 2002 Last revised: 28 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 1, 2001
This paper is now published as:
Bernauer, Thomas, Meins, Erika. 2003. Technological Revolution Meets Policy and the Market: Explaining Cross-National Differences in Agricultural Biotechnology Regulation. European Journal of Political Research 42/5:643-683.
Please read and cite the published version.
The development and marketing of agricultural biotechnology applications has led to controversies over whether and how to regulate this new technology. In response, the European Union has imposed severe restrictions on agricultural biotechnology, particularly in terms of approval and labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food. In stark contrast, the United States maintains a far more permissive approval policy and does not require labeling. This article explains these differences in terms of the collective action capacity of consumer and producer interests, as well as the institutional environment in which regulation takes place. We find that the regulatory outcome in the EU can be traced back to NGOs' increased collective action capacity, an institutional environment favorable to NGO interests, and rifts in the producer coalition due to differences in industrial structure and consumer and NGO opposition. U.S. biotechnology politics is dominated by a strong and cohesive coalition of pro-biotech agricultural and up- and downstream producers. Low public concern and high trust in regulatory authorities have made mobilization of NGOs in the U.S. difficult and have resulted largely in their exclusion from the policy process.
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