Genes, Trade, and Regulation: The Seeds of Conflict in Food Biotechnology

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Genes, Trade, and Regulation: The Seeds of Conflict in Food Biotechnology

By Thomas Bernauer
Princeton University Press, 2003
224 pp. $39.50
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The past decade has witnessed a growing transatlantic conflict over genetically modified (GM) crops. Great advances in microbiology have opened the way for revolutionary improvements in agricultural productivity and in reduced use of pesticides and herbicides. But many people, especially in Europe, fear genetic modification -- despite the fact that they have been eating products genetically modified through selective breeding all their lives. Bernauer, a political scientist based in Zurich, does not take a position on whether GM foods are, on balance, good or bad. He is concerned instead with the political dynamics of the current U.S.-EU impasse on GM products, stemming from disagreement over their health and environmental impacts, and with the deleterious effects that this impasse will have on consumer confidence in GM foods, on the world trading system (especially the World Trade Organization), and on developing countries, which have the potential to benefit most from GM crops. After a thorough exploration of this ongoing controversy, Bernauer proposes a course of action, aimed at political compromise, to break the impasse.