Explaining the present GM business strategy on the EU food market: The gatekeepers’ perspective

Linde Inghelbrecht, Joost Dessein, Guido Van Huylenbroeck

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    The use of genetically modified (GM) crops and their applications is partially suppressed in European Union (EU) agriculture, even if one would expect otherwise given their complementarity with the neoliberal and industrialised EU agricultural regime in place. By applying a qualitative content analysis, this paper analyses how food manufacturers and retailers (referred to as gatekeepers in the food industry) explain and defend the exclusion of GM-labelled food products on the EU market. The study design places emphasis on the role of perceptions in the strategic behaviour of gatekeepers and on the role of interaction in this regard, as we assume that the way in which gatekeepers perceive the ‘rules of the game’ for commercialising GM crop applications on the EU food market will be influenced by their interaction with other agribusiness actors.

    In a first stage, the analysis determines thematic congruence in the (types of) perceptions that explain an agribusiness actor’s overall interpretation of the EU business environment for GM crop applications. This perceived ‘structuring arena’ (SA) for GM crop applications – as conceptualised within our framework – contains areas of either internal and external tensions, that have a compelling or noncommittal influence on the agribusiness actor’s interpretation. In a second stage, the analysis particularly defines how gatekeepers in the food industry perceive and experience the SA for GM crop applications on the EU market, and how these perceptual tensions subsequently influence their strategic behaviour for GM-labelled products on the EU market. Finally, we highlight how these perceptions and actions (or inaction) suppress the main changes in practice that are necessary to manage this wicked problem.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNew Biotechnology
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)65-78
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - 25-Jan-2015


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