News FocusPlant Genetics

Agricultural Biotech Faces Backlash in Europe

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Science  07 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5378, pp. 768-771
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5378.768

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LONDON-- Genetically modified foods have met virtually no consumer resistance in the United States, but in Europe they are provoking fears about safety and environmental damage. Polls are showing that solid majorities of people do not want to eat genetically modified foods and even more want them banned outright. This level of resistance is both alarming and surprising to U.S. and multinational biotechnology companies, who view the new techniques as safe and innocuous technologies that are a seamless extension of traditional plant breeding. The European Union has tried to bring order to the regulatory situation, but its directives, which guide national regulations, have come under fire from biotech companies as too opaque and ineffective and from critics for not taking wider public concerns into account.