Consumer activism, EU institutions and global markets: The struggle over biotech foods

Paulette Kurzer, Alice Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This paper takes a critical look at the struggle between the European Commission and European consumer markets over the future of agricultural biotechnology. While the Commission is keen to normalize the commercialization of biotech foods and crops, European consumers refuse to eat/buy products containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) and have effectively closed the market to GMO. Is this a rare example of European citizens prevailing over the elitist technical decision making procedures in Brussels and the pro-GMO coalition of agro-chemical companies, biotech research institutes, big farming, and selected member states? We show that peculiar circumstances enabled consumer-protection and environmental NGOs to mobilize consumers and to deflect the Commission's goal of introducing biotech foods for a time, a rare achievement in the annals of EU policymaking. However, shifts in global agricultural markets will render this more difficult in the future, in part by awakening dormant tensions within the European anti-biotech movement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-128
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Public Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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