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The so-called 'Moratorium' on the licensing of new genetically modified (GM) products by the European Union 1998-2004: a study in ambiguity

Lookup NU author(s): Sarah Lieberman, Professor Tim Gray



It is commonly held that a moratorium on the approval of new genetically modified (GM) products was in place in the European Union (EU) between 1998 and 2004. The substantive issues raised by this so-called moratorium have stirred up considerable political interest, both inside and outside the EU, culminating in a challenge issued to the EU through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by the United States, Canada and Argentina. However, the status and time-frame of the moratorium have not been much discussed, and in this article we seek to fill this gap, by analysing the status and time-frame of the moratorium through the lens of two competing theoretical frameworks - intergovernmentalism and supranationalism. We find that the moratorium is a highly ambiguous phenomenon, with three alternative interpretations. The first interpretation is that while the origin of the moratorium is explained by intergovernmentalism, its end is explained by supranationalism. The second interpretation, which is based wholly on intergovernmentalism, is that the moratorium is effectively still in place today. The third interpretation, which is based wholly on supranationalism, is that the moratorium never really existed at all. The result of the WTO challenge may well hinge on how the panel views these alternative interpretations of the moratorium.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lieberman SZ, Gray TS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Politics

Year: 2006

Volume: 15

Issue: 4

Pages: 592-609

ISSN (print): 0964-4016

ISSN (electronic): 1743-8934


DOI: 10.1080/09644010600785218


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