Food policy offers more scope than most areas to open up the debate about malfunction of the science-policy interface, because environmental and health risks are so quickly translated into political and financial risks. The maize case study that reveals some of the ways the Genetically Modified (GM) regulatory system militates against the precautionary response. This case study of European marketing approval of Novartis' GM maize highlights how, faced with very incomplete scientific knowledge, and in the almost complete absence of public participation. It examines how the distribution of European regulatory power allowed imposition of unwanted risks on member states and their citizens, even when scientists' reservations about the new technology are as strongly expressed as they are ever likely to be in a debate of this kind. The case study is used as a basis to analyze and categorize the approach to risk taken by the different policy players involved.