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Title: The regulation of modern agricultural biotechnology in EU, US and WTO law : what role for substantial equivalence and consumer preferences?
Author: Petetin, Ludivine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 645X
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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Modem agricultural biotechnology has attracted much critical attention and close scrutiny from politicians, courts and academics, as well as the public, as it creates new risks which in turn may require regulation. This thesis focuses on the role of 'substantial equivalence' and 'consumer preferences' in the regulation of two biotech products, GM and cloned foods. It compares the regulatory regimes of long established GM foods and more recently developed cloned foods in EU, US and WTO law. Importantly, any difference in the regulation of such foods under the EU and US regimes could lead to further disputes at WTO level, as transatlantic trade would be hindered. The thesis also assesses the role that can be played by the WTO. This research asserts that the concept of substantial equivalence, which' assesses whether biotech foods are substantially equivalent to analogous conventional foods, is still at the heart of US, and much of EU, regulation of biotech foods, so rendering the two regimes relatively similar. Furthermore, as substantial equivalence focuses on the end-product rather than the process according to which foods are manufactured, biotech foods may be regulated in the same way as conventional foods. In particular, under existing law cloned food requires no specific labelling in either the US or the EU, although labelling is generally required for GM food in the EU. This research also argues that consumer preferences should play a more significant role in the regulation of biotech foods. Consumers, with their moral, social and cultural values, have an interest in knowing how their food is manufactured. In this context, labelling is vital for consumers as they cannot express their choices and make informed decisions unless biotech foods are properly labelled. WTO law plays a decisive role in the regulation of biotech foods as it would settle any difference in the contrasting regulatory approaches to biotech foods in the EU and the US. It pushes forward the debate on the regulation of new technologies. The product/process distinction also exists under WTO law and is central to the regulation of 'like products'. The DSB could assert that biotech foods are not 'like' conventional varieties and therefore could make the process of manufacture relevant to a like product determination. Moreover, the WTO could listen to consumer preferences and make responses that would enhance the law's claims to legitimacy by analysing the regulatory purpose of a measure. If it did, two separate markets for biotech and conventional foods could be fostered with socially beneficial results. The thesis concludes that an improved regulatory and more efficient regime for biotech foods could be achieved if the concept of substantial equivalence did not play the defining role in the regulation of biotech foods as consumers identify biotech foods as different from conventional foods, and therefore not substantially equivalent (or 'like'), because of the distinct processes involved in the production. Rather, consumers should be given the freedom to choose between biotech and conventional foods as affected by their preferences under EU, US and WTO law. This thesis states the law as at 1 July 2011.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available