Risk Governance of Genetically Modified Crops – European and American Perspectives

  • Joyce Tait
Part of the International Risk Governance Council Bookseries book series (IRGC, volume 1)

Genetically Modified (GM) crops occupy a unique place in the evolution of risk governance approaches to dealing with modern, path-breaking technologies. They were the first such technology to be regulated on a precautionary basis, in a generic sense, from the earliest stages of a technology development process that began in the 1980s and is still evolving.

Today, distinctively different risk governance processes are in place in the European Union (EU) and the USA and the roots of these differences can also be traced back to the 1980s. The European regulatory process is more complex and demanding than that for any other technology; as a result, few GM crops are grown in or imported into Europe. And yet, although GM crops are grown on millions of hectares in the rest of the world, and GM foods are consumed on a daily basis by millions of people, under much less demanding regulatory regimes, there is so far no evidence of environmental or health risks associated with approved products based on this technology, and considerable evidence of their benefits.


European Union Stakeholder Engagement Risk Governance Precautionary Approach Antibiotic Resistance Marker 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bauer, M.W. and Gaskell, G. (eds.), 2002, Biotechnology: The Making of a Global Controversy Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, R., Morse, S. and Ismail, Y., 2006, The economic impact of genetically modified cotton on South African small holders: Yield, profit, and health effects, Journal of Development Studies 42(4), 662–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chataway, J. and Tait, J., 2000, Policy Influences on Technology for Agriculture: Chemicals, Biotechnology and Seeds — Novartis Agribusiness Monogaph, Policy Influences on Technology for Agriculture (PITA): Report to the European Commission Targeted Socio-Economic Research Programme (TSER), Project No. SOE1/CT97/1068. Available at: and
  4. Chataway, J., Tait, J. and Wield, D., 2004, Understanding company R&D strategies in agro-biotechnology: Trajectories and blindspots, Research Policy 33(6–7), 1041–1057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Council for Biotechnology Information, 2001, Bt Corn and the Monarch Butterfly, March 4.Google Scholar
  6. Daniell, H., 2002, Molecular strategies for gene containment in transgenic crops, Nature Biotechnology 20, 581–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ewen, S.W.B. and Pusztai, A., 1999, Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine, The Lancet 354, October 16, 1353– 1354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ewen, S.W.B. and Pusztai, A., 1999, Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine, The Lancet 354, October 16, 1353– 1354.Google Scholar
  9. Jaffe, G.D., 2004, Regulating GM crops: A comparative analysis, Transgenic Research 13(1), 5– 19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. James, C., 2002, Global Review of Commercialised Transgenic Crops Featuring Bt Cotton, ISAAA Brief No. 26, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, Ithaca, USA.Google Scholar
  11. Kornberg, H., 1988, Opening remarks, in: M. Sussman, C.H. Collins, F.A. Skinner and D.E. Stewart-Tull (eds.), The Release of Genetically Engineered Micro-Organisms, Academic Press, San Diego, CA, pp. 1–5.Google Scholar
  12. Losey, J.E., Raynor, L.S. and Carter, M.E., 1999, Transgenic pollen harms monarch larvae, Nature Magazine, May 20.Google Scholar
  13. Lyall, C. and Tait, J., 2005, New Modes of Governance: Developing an Integrated Policy Approach to Science, Technology, Risk and the Environment, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., Aldershot, Hampshire.Google Scholar
  14. Martin, S. and Tait, J., 1992, Attitudes of selected public groups in the UK to biotechnology, in: J. Durrant (ed.), Biotechnology in Public: A Review of Recent Research, Science Museum for the European Federation of Biotechnology, pp. 28–41.Google Scholar
  15. Millstone, E., Brunner, E. and Meyer, S., 1999, Beyond ‘substantial equivalence’, Nature 401, 7 October, 525–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. OECD, 1993, Safety Evaluation of Foods Derived by Modern Biotechnology: Concepts and Principles, OECD, Paris.Google Scholar
  17. Oliva, M.J., Baumuller, H. and Mohan, S., 2006, Guide to Trade, Biotechnology and Sustainability, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), p. 32.Google Scholar
  18. Pierre, J. and Peters, B.G., 2000, Governance, Politics and the State, Macmillan, Basingstoke.Google Scholar
  19. RCEP, Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, 1989, Thirteenth Report: The Release of Genetically Engineered Organisms to the Environment, HMSO, London.Google Scholar
  20. Spinardi, G. and Williams, R., 2005, The governance challenges of breakthrough science and technology, in: C. Lyall and J. Tait (eds.), New Modes of Governance: Developing an Integrated Policy Approach to Science, Technology, Risk and the Environment, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., Aldershot, Hampshire, pp. 45–66.Google Scholar
  21. Tait, J., 1993, Written evidence on behalf of ESRC to Report of House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology on Regulation of the United Kingdom Biotechnology Industry and Global Competitiveness, 7th Report, Session 1992/93, HMSO, London, HL Paper 80-I, pp. 187–196.Google Scholar
  22. Tait, J., 2001, More Faust than Frankenstein: The European debate about risk regulation for genetically modified crops, Journal of Risk Research 4(2), 175–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tait, J., 2004, Science and Bias, Paper presented at the BA Festival of Science, Exeter, 6 September, 2004 (
  24. Tait, J., 2007, Systemic interactions in life science innovation, Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 19(3), May, 257–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tait, J. and Bruce, A., 2004, Global change and transboundary risks, in: T. McDaniels and M. Small (eds.), Risk Analysis and Society: An Interdisciplinary Characterisation of the Field, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 367–419. (Commissioned by Society for Risk Analysis for the International Symposium on Risk and Governance, Warrenton, VA, USA, June 2000.)Google Scholar
  26. Tait, J. and Chataway, J., 2007, The governance of corporations, technological change, and risk: Examining industrial perspectives on the development of genetically modified crops, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 25(1), 21–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tait, J. and Levidow, L., 1992, Proactive and reactive approaches to risk regulation: The case of biotechnology, Futures, April, 219–231.Google Scholar
  28. Von Homeyer, I., 2002, Deliberate Release Directive: Precautionary Interactions, Project Deliverable No. D25, Final Draft, December 2002.Google Scholar
  29. Willis, R. and Wilsdon, J., 2004, See-Through Science — Why Public Engagement Needs to Move Upstream, Demos, London, 71 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joyce Tait
    • 1
  1. 1.Innogen Center, Institute for the Study of ScienceTechnology, and Innovation, University of EdinburghScotland

Personalised recommendations