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GM crops in the United Kingdom: precaution as process

Oreszczyn, S

Science and Public Policy   32 (4) 317-324

January 2005   (Date deposited September 2006)

Although the United Kingdom (UK) has no explicit ban on genetically modified (GM) crops, by mid-2005 cultivation of GM crops has uncertain prospects. The UK has taken a 'precautionary approach' that has engaged policy actors in a participatory process going beyond usual regulatory procedures. It has involved a less formal procedure than that advocated by the European Commission's guidelines on precaution. Attempts to accommodate diverse perspectives in a policy decision for GM crops have engaged policy actors in a learning process that raised broader questions concerning agriculture more generally. It has highlighted the need for flexible policy measures, particularly at the European level. However, this process may undermine, rather than help to achieve, the stated Government aim, which is to restore public confidence in science as the basis for policy making.