chapter  5
28 Pages

Health risks of GM foods: The concept of ‘substantial equivalence’

As we outlined in the Introduction to this book, agricultural biotechnology led to a legitimacy crisis for politicians and policy makers in Europe in the late 1990s. A consumer boycott of GM foods was accompanied by NGO direct action against GM crops in fields. These developments led to delays in the approval of new GM products, blockages of US maize exports, and a commercial boycott by food retailers. This context created more opportunities for critics to challenge the claim that GM products were safe, and as a result expert-regulatory debates and procedures became much more sensitive to critical perspectives. In Chapter 4 we outlined how the treatment of environmental risks associated with Bt maize changed in this context.