Decision making regarding genetically modified crops at an impasse because of lack of political decisiveness

The lack of any political decision is an underestimated hinderance in the debate on the cultivation of genetically modified crops. Those who are involved, hide behind the absence of social and academic agreement on this issue. In addition, unclear regulations are being strategically used to hinder decision making, concludes Ruth Mampuys in her thesis, which she successfully defended on 28 January 2021 at Erasmus School of Law. According to Mampuys, the discussion has been going on for too long and politicians should show more decisiveness.

The lack of any political decision regarding the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) weighs heavily on the debate on this method of crop cultivation. In the absence of consensus at a social and academic level, political leaders in the European Union continue to abstain from voting, or hinder decision-making otherwise.

According to Mampuys, the decision-making procedure does not have to take as long as it currently does. The development of the corona vaccine, which is also based on GMOs, went very fast in the European Union and regulations for environmental safety were also quickly adjusted. However, the discussion about genetically modified crops has been going on for decades, without progression.

The real political discussion on this subject is being circumvented because the European Commission does not want to take a position for strategic reasons. Current decision-making is only focused on safety and does not allow for a substantive debate on the issue, says Mampuys: "Because only safety arguments are considered legitimate, the discussion systematically gets out of hand, and no agreement on the risks is achieved."

In her thesis, Mampuys analyzed various strategies to achieve a fertile debate and ways to come to political decision-making on this topic, such as through more extensive scientific research, stimulating social consensus, and better regulation regarding decision-making on GMOs. In her study, Mampuys combined different disciplines, including sociology, political science and philosophy of law.

More information

Read the article by Nieuwe Oogst about the thesis here (Dutch).

Read Ruth Mampuys' entire thesis here: The Deadlock in European GM Crop Authorizations as a Wicked Problem by Design: A need for Repoliticization of the Decision-making Process.

Mampuys, who is involved with the Netherlands scientific council for government policy, wrote her thesis under the supervision of Wibren van der Burg and Lonneke Poort of the Sociology, Theory and Methodology section of Erasmus School of Law, and Frans Brom from Utrecht University.