Skip to main content

Regulation Made in the United States: Regulatory Polarization and the Brazilian Case

  • 13 Accesses


This chapter offers a comparative examination of existing regulatory policies in Europe, the United States, and Brazil. The comparison aims to provide a better localization of the Brazilian policy vis-à-vis the existing regulatory policies in the world today. Considering that the United States and Europe are currently seen as offering distinct regulatory models for GMOs, the possibility of bringing the Brazilian policy closer to one of these alternatives will allow us to capture some of its main characteristics. This part of the paper may thus offer some clues as to the alignment of Brazilian policy within the global debate on GMOs. Besides noting the proximity of Brazilian policy to one of these regulatory models, some arguments that may help in understanding this proximity are also presented.


  • Regulation
  • Regulatory polarization
  • US
  • Europe
  • Brazil
  • Agribusiness
  • Labeling

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-21792-0_7
  • Chapter length: 20 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-031-21792-0
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)


  1. 1.

    Our considerations of the European view of agbiotech in the pre-moratorium period is based largely on the works of Levidow (2014a, b) and Levidow and Carr (2010). A detail of the issues that will be examined here can be found in different papers published by the author on this period.

  2. 2.

    However, it seems that some internal tensions between EU member states began to emerge in this period, since, as Levidow (2014a) points out, some of them began to disapprove of the policy guidance offered by the European Commission. And it seems that the decision to release GM seeds without significant changes in the regulatory process will end up intensifying these conflicts that have remained latent among EU member states.

  3. 3.

    The following details of the regulatory process are based on the work of Lee (2008, 2010).

  4. 4.

    Although there are different standards and guidelines for the two cases (food and feed), there are requirements that are common to both. For example, both products require an environmental risk assessment and must follow the same procedures to carry out this assessment. For more details on this process, see Lee (2008, 2010).

  5. 5.

    In the case of StarLink GM corn, the discussions took place for other reasons. Environmental groups made a complaint indicating that traces of transgenic corn, which had not been released for human consumption, had appeared in products from the Taco Bell chain. The complaint prompted the FDA and EPA authorities to open an investigation into the case. In the case of the United States, the political and economic controversies over the use of GM foods were not restricted to the national sphere, but also expressed in international politics. In 2002, the United States provided food aid to Africa, but this ended up involving an international conflict over the viability and reception of the food, since it was denounced for being GM food (Lee, 2008, p. 20).

  6. 6.

    The updated figures for GM food production in the United States can be found on the US FDA website. See, for example,

  7. 7.

    The United States and Canada have exerted a strong influence in international organizations like the OECD in the context of trade policies associated with GMOs. As they have converging interests in agricultural policy, the United States and Canada have sought to shape international laws in a way that favors their commercial interests. Also during this period, the United States was the major proponent of TRIPS, the agreement that protects the interests of biotechnology companies (Bognar & Skogstad, 2014, p. 73). The “blue book” produced by the OECD established three main axes for GMO regulatory policy. All of these still hold true today in US GM food policy. Among these guidelines established by the commission are the principles that (a) in terms of risk there is no substantial difference between GM products and conventional products, (b) genetic manipulation techniques are considered to express safety in obtaining results, and (c) in scientific terms, the construction of specific legislation for the use and marketing of GM products is seen as of little importance. For a brief analysis of the OECD guidelines for GMOs, see Lunel (1995).

  8. 8.

    As Paarlberg (2001) observes, intellectual property right protection policies emerged in the 1990s incorporating a permissive rather than preventive approach to GM seeds. This more permissive environment then encouraged the interest of biotechnology companies to invest in the country. Then, as Paarlberg (2001, p. 69) writes: “Strengthened IPR guarantees have also helped encourage research on GM crop technologies by Brazil’s own agricultural scientist working inside state-funded institutes. If Brazil fails in the end to participate in the GM crop revolution, weak IPR policies will not have been the reason.”

  9. 9.

    On recent attempts by the agribusiness caucus to nullify the effects of mandatory labeling of GMOs in Brazil, see Cortese et al. (2021).

  10. 10.

    One must consider that a traceability system is, by definition, a type of policy associated with risk management. So, as Ene (2013) notes, the “main purpose of traceability development is to increase security and safety throughout the food chain and to establish an acceptable model for raw material supply (...)” (Ene, 2013, p. 289). And one of its main objectives is to “manage risks related to food safety and animal health issues” (Ene, 2013, p. 289). However, a more detailed analysis of the relationship between labeling, traceability, and risk management in European policy can be found in Devos et al. (2012). In it, the authors also examine the post-market environmental monitoring plans (PMEM) that are proposed by the European Commission in its new regulatory guidelines for GM foods.


  • Aarts, H. J. M., Rie, J. P. F., van & Kok, E. J. (2002). Traceability of genetically modified organisms. Expert Review of Molecular Diagnostics, 2(1), 69–77.

  • Alemanno, A. (2008). The European Food Safety Authority at Five. European Food and Feed Law Review, 3(1), 2–24.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bernauer, T. (2003). Genes, trade and regulation. The seeds of conflict in food biotechnology. Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bognar, J., & Skogstad, G. (2014). Biotechnology in North America: The United States, Canada and Mexico. In S. J. Smyth, P. W. B. Phillips, & D. Castle (Eds.), Handbook on Agriculture, Biotechnology and Development (pp. 71–85). Edward Elgar.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cesarino, L. M. C. N. (2006). Acendendo as luzes da ciência para iluminar as luzes do progresso. Dissertação (Mestrado em Antropologia Social) – Programa de Pós-Graduação em Antropologia Social. Universidade de Brasília, Brasília.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cortese, R. D. M., et al. (2021). Reflexões sobre a proposta de modificação da regulamentação de rotulagem de alimentos transgênicos no Brasil. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 26(12), 6235–6246.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Devos, Y., Craig, W., & Schiemann, J. (2012). Transgenic crops, risk assessment and regulatory framework in the European Union. In R. A. Meyers (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology (pp. 10765–10796). Springer.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ene, C. (2013). The relevance of traceability in the food chain. Economics of Agriculture, 60(2), 287–297.

    Google Scholar 

  • Franke, A. C., Greco, F. M., Noordam, M. Y., Roza, P., Eaton, D. J. F., Bindraban, P. S., & Lotz, L. A. P. (2009). The institutional and legal environment for GM Soy in Brazil. Publisher Plant Research International, Wageningen University & Research Centre.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grossman, M. R. (2007). European community legislation for traceability and labeling of genetically modified crops, food, and feed. In: P. Weirich (Ed). Labeling genetically modified food: The philosophical and legal debate. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • IDEC. (2022). Venceu o lobby dos transgênicos. Publicado em abril de 2005. Disponível em Acesso em 03.03.2022.

  • Lee, M. (2008). EU Regulation of GMOs. Law and decision making for a new technology. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lee, M. (2010). Multi-level governance of genetically modified organism in the European Union: Ambiguity and Hierarchy. In L. Bodiguel & M. Cardwell (Eds.), The regulation of genetically modified organisms. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Levidow, L. (2014a). European Union policy conflicts over agbiotech: ecological modernization perspectives and critiques. In S. J. Smyth, P. W. B. Phillips, & D. Castle (Eds.), Handbook on agriculture, biotechnology and development (pp. 153–165). Edward Elgar.

    Google Scholar 

  • Levidow, L. (2014b). EU Regulatory conflicts over GM food. In D. M. Kaplan & P. B. Thompson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of food and agricultural ethics (pp. 834–841). Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Levidow, L., & Carr, S. (2010). GM food on trial. Testing European democracy. Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lunel, J. (1995). Biotechnology regulations and guidelines in Europe. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 6(3), 267–272.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Markert, L. R., & Backer, P. R. (2003). Contemporary technology. Innovations, issues, and perspectives. The Goodheart-Willcox Company, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Melgarejo, L. (2022). A transgenia está mudando para pior a realidade agrícola brasileira. Entrevista com Leonardo Melgarejo. Disponível em Acesso em: 10 de abril de 2022.

  • Paarlberg, R. L. (2001). The politics of precaution. Genetically modified crops in developing countries. The Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Priest, S. H. (2005). Biotechnology. In Science, technology, and society. An Encyclopedia (pp. 34–40). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Lenzi, C.L. (2022). Regulation Made in the United States: Regulatory Polarization and the Brazilian Case. In: Transgenics in Dispute. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-21791-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-21792-0

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)