EU’s negative attitude toward GMOs shaped by 20 years of anti-biotech ‘fear-mongering,’ USDA finds

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A Greenpeace activist displays signs symbolising genetically modified maize crops during a protest in front of the European Union headquarters in Brussels Image: REUTERS/Thierry Roge

For more than two decades, European consumers have been exposed to consistent fear-mongering from anti-biotech groups, resulting in negative consumer attitudes towards genetically engineered (GE) products. This is according to the March 2020 Agricultural Biotechnology Annual [report] for the European Union prepared by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

The report cites that the EU’s policy framework for biotechnology that was developed with the heavy influence of activists close to the antiglobalization movement creates an unnecessary regulatory burden that does not improve consumer protection and does not take into account recent scientific knowledge.

In July 2018, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling that organisms created through innovative biotechnologies should be regulated as GE organisms in the EU.

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Since then, the stakeholders that defend agricultural biotechnology at the EU level are scientists and professionals in the agricultural sector, including farmers, seed companies, and representatives of the feed supply chain. The ruling has prompted the European Union to call the Commission to conduct a study to achieve clarity on the situation.

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