The non-GM crop regime in the EU: How do Industries deal with this wicked problem?

Linde Inghelbrecht, Joost Dessein, Guido Van Huylenbroeck

    Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftA1: Web of Science-artikelpeer review


    tIn the European Union (EU), genetically modified (GM) crops are regarded as a socially-sensitive tech-nology. At present, GM crops are rarely cultivated in the EU and non-genetically modified ingredientsdominate the EU market. However, most consumers are unaware of the fact that many genetically mod-ified ingredients (GMI) are present in EU supermarkets in spite of this virtual ban on GM. For example,eggs, meat or milk derived from GM-fed animals are marketed without a GM label. Moreover, the EU polit-ical landscape has failed to create a stable and predictable environment in which to either implement orreject GM crops and their applications. As such, the present non-GM crop regime in the EU presents atricky and challenging environment for agribusiness companies to determine their GM business policy.Few academic studies have analysed this industry perspective on the current EU non-GM crop regime.In this paper, we therefore analyse which discourses influence the GM business policy of agribusinesscompanies that are active on the EU market and how these discourses influence the decision-makingprocess of several agricultural industry sectors on whether to include or exclude GMIs in products forthe EU market.The paper outlines three discourses that shape the discursive space of GM crop applications in theEU from an industry perspective, (i) GMIs as an agricultural payoff; (ii) GMIs as a marketing threat; and(iii) non-GM crops as a preset end goal. The paper also discusses how these discourses influence the GMbusiness decision-making process for several agricultural industry sectors, these being the agriculturalbiotech industry, the compound feed industry, the food manufacturing and marketing industries, thepotato industry and the organic farming sector. Accordingly, our research classifies the present non-GMcrop regime in the EU as a “wicked problem”, due to the high level of conflict, discord and complexityinvolved.Wicked problems cannot be solved, but only managed. Therefore, this paper proposes a different typeof solution to break the impasse, either in favour of or against GM crop applications, by demanding multi-level stakeholder engagement instead of the current supply-chain-focused mode-of-action in industry.Nevertheless, it is necessary to adapt our knowledge about governing the particular dynamics of wickedproblems, and this presents a highly complex - albeit interesting - challenge for future research.
    Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
    TijdschriftNJAS - Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
    Aantal pagina’s10
    PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - 2014


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