A Growing Impasse: The Future of the EU's GMO Regime

Research output: Working paper


In the spring of 2014, the Greek presidency of the Council of the EU tabled a revised version of a 2010 proposal that promises to allow Member States to restrict or prohibit the commercial cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on whole or part of their territory. This study seeks to answer the question: does the proposal for partial renationalisation of the EU’s regulatory regime for the cultivation of GMOs provide an adequate solution to its current problems? It finds that the EU’s GMO regime has to this day failed to accommodate national diversity prior to authorisation through central deliberation and that it does not provide Member States with opportunities for substantial differentiation post-authorisation. An in-depth legal analysis of the Greek proposal, however, shows that the proposal is unlikely to fill this legal vacuum by empowering Member States to impose cultivation bans after authorisation, while the exercise of their newfound autonomy may well be restricted by EU internal market and international WTO law. Whereas this study makes recommendations for a more adequate redistribution of competences, it also calls into question whether renationalisation is the best solution for the regime’s problems. It thus examines the practical consequences of re-emphasising national frontiers when dealing with a cross-boundary issue like GMO cultivation, and briefly discusses underexplored opportunities to improve the inclusiveness of the EU’s centralised risk-assessment and risk-management procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationRochester, NY
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2014


  • genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • EU regulatory regime
  • renationalisation/deharmonisation
  • cultivation bans
  • WTO
  • internal markets


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