Transgenic Research

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 267–286 | Cite as

Are current EU policies on GMOs justified?

  • Andreas T. ChristiansenEmail author
  • Martin Marchman Andersen
  • Klemens Kappel
Original Paper


The European Court of Justice’s recent ruling that the new techniques for crop development are to be considered as genetically modified organisms under the European Union’s regulations exacerbates the need for a critical evaluation of those regulations. The paper analyzes the regulation from the perspective of moral and political philosophy. It considers whether influential arguments for restrictions of genetically modified organisms provide cogent justifications for the policies that are in place, in particular a pre-release authorization requirement, mandatory labelling, and de facto bans (in the form of withholding or opting out of authorizations). It is argued that arguments pertaining to risk can justify some form of pre-release authorization scheme, although not necessarily the current one, but that neither de facto bans nor mandatory labelling can be justified by reference to common arguments concerning naturalness, agricultural policy (in particular the promotion of organic farming), socio-economic effects, or consumers’ right to choose.


GMO Policy Risk Natural Organic Labelling Authorization Opt-out 



The authors wish to thank the Practical Philosophy Research Group at the University of Copenhagen for several discussions of earlier drafts of the paper. We would especially like to thank Xavier Landes for significant input earlier in the process, and Bjørn Hallsson for detailed comments. Funding was provided by Novo Nordisk Fonden (Grand No. NNF17SA0031368) and Københavns Universitet (UCPH Excellence Program for Interdisciplinary Research).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Media, Cognition and CommunicationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.DTU Management EngineeringTechnical University of DenmarkKgs. LyngbyDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Media, Cognition and CommunicationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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