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Safety regulation of Transgenic Crops: Completing the Internal Market ?


The commercial potential of a agricultural biotechnology, especially of transgenic crops, is becoming central to strategic choices for enhancing economic competitiveness, while encouraging sustainable development. These choices involve social, economic and ethical perspectives on how 'risk' and 'benefit' should be defined. The primary means available for handling those concerns has been safety regulation; under such pressures, it has become difficult for regulatory procedures to fulfil their aims of helping to overcome internal trade barriers and public unease.

This study will inform policy processes and decisions on the most appropriate form of EU Safety regulation for transgenic crops, so as to find a more consensual basis for their commercialization in the EU internal market.

Our aims relate to those of the ELSA programme, in particular:

I) to clarify how ethical, social and legal issues are taken into account in regulatory decisions for transgenic crops, so that the procedures may be improved;

ii) to promote an informed dialogue among the key players in public debates on how to regulate transgenic crops;

iii) to suggest how regulatory expertise could be broadened to encompass public and scientific concerns;
We will disseminate our results through publications, workshops.

The main contractor will co-ordinate a European network of studies by partners and subcontractors in ten European countries. The project has 6 main aspects, which overlap somewhat, as they do in actual practice:

I) diverse regulatory boundaries across member states, as regards regulatory procedures for food safety, pesticides, food labelling;

ii) normative judgements in agriculture, as regards which potential effects of transgenetic crops are deemed acceptable;

iii) risk-assessment research, particularly where used to justify market approval or where monitoring is extended into the post-marketing stage;

iv) labelling of seeds and food, as regards the critical for statutory or voluntary labelling;

v) a Europe-wide market, as selectively created or constrained (e.g. by a virtual moratorium), and as linking sales of seeds and farm produce;

vi) links to pesticide regulation, in so far as such policies influence how member states interpret Directive 90/220 and other regulatory procedures for transgenic crops.


Open University
Walton Hall
MK7 6AA Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

Participants (5)

Departamento de Lùogica y Filosofiùa de la Ciencia
Avda. Blasco Ibañez No 21
46010 Valencia
Institut für Soziologie
Konradstrasse 6
80801 München
Institute of Technology Assessment
Postgasse 7/4/3
1010 Vienna
International Centre for Human and Public Affairs
Pastoor Smitsstraat 25
5014 RH Tilburg
Roskilde University Library
Marbjergvej 35
4000 Roskilde