Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 437–457 | Cite as

Coexistence of Plants and Coexistence of Farmers: Is an Individual Choice Possible?

  • Rosa BinimelisEmail author


The introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Europe has been characterized by controversy. In 2002, the European Union introduced the concept of “coexistence” as a compromise solution that, through the establishment of science-based technical measures, should allow the market to operate freely while reducing policy conflicts on GMOs. However, the concept remains highly contested and the technical measures difficult to apply. This paper presents qualitative research on the conceptualization and implementation of the coexistence framework in two regions of Spain (Catalonia and Aragon), where 42% and 55% of maize was GM in 2006, respectively. In this context, the concept of coexistence and its proposed implementation both fail to resolve previous conflicts and actually work to generate new ones through the individualization of choice and impacts. Considerations of the social conditions in which the technology and the management measures are implemented were not taken into account. This resulted in the promotion of biotechnological agriculture over other alternatives.


Coexistence GMOs liability maize organic agriculture Spain 


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I wish to thank Roger Strand, Fern Wickson, and Kamilla Kjølberg at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT) in Bergen, Iliana Monterroso at FLACSO-Guatemala, and Joan Martínez Alier and Nicolas Kosoy at the Autonomous University of Barcelona for their helpful comments on a previous version of this article. The Research Council of Norway and the FP6 project ALARM (GOCECT-2003-506675) have partially funded this research. I am particularly grateful to all the stakeholders who actively collaborated in the research process.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA)Autonomous University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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