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EPCEM 2001: Differences in the authorization process of GMOs in the EU and the USA

This report investigates the different approaches in the authorization process of GMOs for commercial use in the European Union and the United States of America. Three main aspects are considered and analyzed as potential causes of differences in the authorization process of GMOs for commercial use. Those are the authorization procedure, the decision-making and the influence of the main actors involved.

2001  -   2001
Geert de Snoo

Biotechnology is a world-wide growing industry. Since the 1980s’ biotechnology has evolved from scientific curiosity towards commercial applications. Today genetic modification (GM) finds its application in pharmaceuticals, detergents, animal feed and to a certain extent in food production. Genetically engineered crops have been widely applied in agr icultural practices. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) reach the end-consumers, directly or through the food chain.

Proponents of biotechnology applications in agriculture, claim that it will bring substantial benefits. Those benefits range from the reduction of the environmental pressures (less use of herbicides and pesticides), improvements of human health (combat diseases caused by malnutrition), to economic benefits (higher yields). At the same time, opponents state that the new technology can have crucial negative effects on the environment and human health, such as a loss of biodiversity and unpredictable long-term health effects. However, neither of the sides can prove nor disapprove the claims of the others due to significant scientific uncertainties and gaps in knowledge.

In spite of these uncertainties, a number of GMOs have been already authorized for commercial use. Presently, the European Union has so far authorized just a few genetically modified crops for the commercial release in the Union. This means that there are hardly any food products on the market, which have been genetically modified. On the other hand, the USA is authorizing more and more GMOs.

Course:  European Course in Environmental Management (EPCEM)


  • Pim van Hooft
  • Gerard Barendse   

Participating students 

  • Anita Bisofa
  • Grisha Domakowski
  • Liliya Evtimova
  • Andrea Gondova
  • Kristina Tourilova
  • Natalia Trzcinka