EU legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is the most stringent legislation governing the matter in the world, laying down strict conditions relating to labelling, traceability, threshold and release on the market. In light of a recent Commission proposal to amend Directive 2001/18, which currently regulates the release of GMOs on the European market, this article asks whether and on what basis such stringency is justified. This is done through an in depth analysis of the EU regulatory framework for GMOs while at the same time highlighting the multiple interests at stake (environmental, scientific, industrial, political, national and European).
This article argues that the European institutions should proceed to amend Directive 2001/18 on the basis of a detailed examination of the benefits as well as the risks that GMOs present. This article, however, raises concern that the European regulatory framework will focus exclusively on the risks or on political concerns relating to GMOs instead, for it is a fear of GMOs that seems to permeate the system from top to bottom.