Coexistence of GMOs in the EU – A Veritable Choice?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This was an invited paper presented at the annual Irish European Law Forum in University College Dublin. Other speakers included international experts in law and economics, e.g. Profs Tim Josling, Alan Matthews and Michael Cardwell, and a judge from the WTO dispute panel.

This chapter examines the issue of coexistence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) alongside conventional and organic crops. The central focus is on whether there is a veritable opportunity for coexistence of all three types of crops, which allows for freedom of choice by both farmers and consumers. It commences by considering the nature of the general GM regime, the relationship between the frameworks for cultivation and the use and sale of GM food and feed, and the main elements of the cultivation regime. In light of this, the concept of coexistence is considered, with an evaluation of both the legal and practical elements. Although the general GM regime is controlled at an EU level, coexistence is apparently left to the Member States who may take appropriate coexistence measures. Nonetheless, the Commission has created Recommendations that are to guide the Member States in their choice of measures. To a great extent, what is considered ‘appropriate’ is to be determined by the economic impact upon the farmers and the relationship with the labelling thresholds. The chapter evaluates the future of coexistence, bearing in mind the continued use of the safeguard clauses, the declaration of ‘GM-free’ regions, the potential for national ‘opt-outs’ and the general practical challenges of maintaining coexistence including the ‘domino effect’. Overall, it is arguable that coexistence is a misnomer and that if the term’s meaning is strictly maintained then veritable coexistence that allows for freedom of choice by both farmers and consumers seems unattainable. Although not directly controlled by CAP, there are strong areas of overlap and they share a number of similar objectives; the chapter will conclude by considering whether the approaches in relation to CAP and the cultivation of GMOs are converging or diverging.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
EventThe CAP in 2020: The Future of the Policy? - UCD, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 13 Mar 201414 Mar 2014


ConferenceThe CAP in 2020: The Future of the Policy?


  • CAP
  • GMOs
  • genetically modified organisms
  • cultivation
  • coexistence


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