• M. DreyerEmail author
  • O. Renn
Part of the Risk, Governance and Society book series (RISKGOSO, volume 15)

Since the mid-1990s, following a series of food-related scares and debates, with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and genetically modified (GM) foods as the most prominent issues, food safety institutions in Europe have been facing growing demands for a more effective, efficient and, at the same time, balanced and fair regulatory process that is also characterised by more transparent and participatory decision-making procedures. These demands have been motivated by concerns that powerful economic and political interests would be advanced at the expense of consumer interests – with increasing pressures resulting from broader developments such as economic globalisation, societal fragmentation, and trade liberalisation. These recent developments tend to place time constraints on all actors, create undue opportunities for special interest groups to influence the decision-making process and exert pressure on the scientific assessment process to provide results that reflect popular sentiments or easy solutions to complex problems. Food substances, products, or production techniques were sometimes represented as “certainly safe” while in fact uncertainties were denied or ignored, scientific studies not properly acknowledged, public concerns not taken seriously and, as recent food scares have revealed, even public health protection compromised.


European Union Genetically Modify Food Safety Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Precautionary Principle 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DIALOGIKNon-Profit Institute for Communication and Cooperation ResearchStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.University of StuttgartDepartment for Sociology of Technology and EnvironmentStuttgartGermany

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