Sustainability and Social Justice

GMO as a Sustainability Issue: The Role of the Global Reporting Initiative

Document Type

Book Chapter


Introduction Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been introduced in the agricultural system and on the market of consumer goods in the last ten to twenty years, initially in the United States but, increasingly, in developing countries as well. Since the discovery of genetic engineering with its potential to modify DNA of living organisms, discussion and controversy have been abundant. Europe has witnessed a particularly strong resistance to the introduction of GMOs in agriculture and for consumer food products, both from consumers, national governments, and from the EU. The public objections had numerous causes, including concerns about food safety, risk assessment, ethics and equity issues, power relations, and mistrust of technocrats and public authorities. The resistance in Asia, Latin America, and North America has been weaker than in Europe, although some authors have voiced scathing criticism of the U.S. governments and the industrial lobby for allegedly using famine in Africa to foster the spread of GM food to developing countries. In response to the criticism, European governments have attempted to improve risk assessment methods and their scientific basis and to tailor public policies to the growing demand for transparency, accountability, and public participation. The form such public participation might take, how it would contribute to greater transparency and accountability, and how it would shape more effective and legitimate public policies have yet to be fully resolved.

Publication Title

Governing Risk in GM Agriculture

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