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Boschert, Karin and Gill, Bernhard (2005): Germany’s agri-biotechnology policy. Precaution for choice and alternatives. In: Science and Public Policy, Vol. 32, No. 4: pp. 285-292 [PDF, 76kB]

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In Germany, the precautionary principle (PP) is a well-established legal principle in environmental law, especially for regulating agribiotechnology. This article uses the analytical concept of issue-framing to identify different views of the PP and how they have informed changes in the German regulatory arena. In the 1990s Germany’s genetically modified (GM) crop policy was dominated by a discourse of innovation and international competitiveness, combined with narrow accounts of precaution. In the early 2000s, agro-biotechnology became subject to changes in the risk regulatory system, new agricultural policies and a broader precautionary scope. After the BSE crisis, German policy promoted sustainable agriculture and organic food, combined with the demand for a precautionary consumer policy and ‘consumer choice’. Precaution now encompasses comprehensive mandatory labelling and liability rules to protect non-GM food production from GM ‘contamination’ in fields and across the food chain.

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