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This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 37 No. 1, p. 27-31
    Received: Aug 19, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): lusnyder@purdue.edu
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European Union's Moratorium Impact on Food Biotechnology: A Discussion-Based Scenario

  1. Lori Unruh Snyder *a,
  2. Maria Gallob,
  3. Stephen G. Fulfordc,
  4. Tracy Iranid,
  5. Rick Rudde,
  6. Sharon M. DiFinof and
  7. Timothy C. Durhamg
  1. a Lilly Hall Room 2-424E, Agronomy Dep., Purdue Univ., 915 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2054
    b Agronomy Dep., 303 Cancer/Genetics Research Complex, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610
    c Agronomy Dep. 2183 McCarty Hall, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
    d Dep. of Agricultural Education and Communication, 213 Rolfs Hall, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
    e Dep. of Agricultural and Extension Education, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061
    f Germanic and Slavic Studies Dep., 365 Dauer Hall, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
    g Doctor of Plant Medicine Program, 1302 Fifield Hall, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611


Genetically modified (GM) crops such as maize (Zea mays L.), cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), soybean [Glycine max (L.) Moench], and canola (Brassica rapa L.) have been widely adopted by American farmers. In spite of their use in the United States, the European Union (EU) imposed a 6-year de facto moratorium (1998–2004) on the cultivation/import of transgenic crops. Although the U.S. government has assured stakeholders of their safety, the EU continues to be an outspoken opponent. This can largely be attributed to a lack of trust in the regulatory process, and especially a cynical perspective on the underlying science and institutions that govern approval. Such disparities were illustrated in 2003 when the United States donated GM maize to aid African countries stricken by famine. Under purported EU threats of retaliatory trade sanctions, African officials refused the aid. An examination of this episode contrasts the potential discord between those affected and those who formulate government policy. Using resources from both sides of the debate, this scenario summarizes the pertinent issues regarding EU's refusal to the import transgenic crops. A group discussion and debate protocol was developed for facilitating small group and entire class consideration of the scenario while strengthening student critical thinking skills.

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