Sneak Preview: The Limits of Regulatory Science in the Governance of Transgenic Plant Agriculture and Food Systems

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By: Taiwo A. Oriola

The current national and transnational regulatory and policy framework for transgenic plant agriculture and food is arguably largely defined by science. Notably, transgenic plant agriculture policy deference to science is ostensibly premised on the general perception that science is neutral, objective, reliable, and agnostic. This is exemplified by cases that range from Alliance for Bio-integrity v Donna Shalala, European Communities: Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products, to European Commission v Republic of Poland, in which conscientious, ethical, religious, and cultural oppositional grounds to transgenic plant agriculture and food were trumped by scientific imperatives. However, the lack of unanimity of views amongst scientists on the degree of susceptibility of transgenic plant food to new toxins and allergens; the continuing scientific uncertainties on the proprieties and full ramifications of transgenic plant agriculture and food respectively for the environment and public health; and the seeming inevitability of in situ gene flow and adventitious commingling of transgenic and non-transgenic plant genes; could arguably undermine the presumed reliability, neutrality, objectivity, and agnosticism of the “science” that underpins the regulatory and policy framework for transgenic plant technology governance, and concomitantly cast doubts on the propriety of the current science-centric regulatory framework for transgenic plant agricultural technology. Drawing on relevant case law and selected case studies, the article explores the extent to which science is ultimately reliable, objective, agnostic, or neutral in its pivotal role as the fulcrum anchoring the regulatory and governance systems for transgenic plant agriculture and food systems.

Come back soon for the full publication in North Carolina's Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation.

Posted by Stephen A. Moore on Fri. April 4, 2014 1:00 PM
Categories: Food and agriculture, International Law

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