Interpreting sustainable development and societal utility in Norwegian GMO assessments

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Series Details Vol.18, No.4, July-August 2008, p243-256
Publication Date July 2008
ISSN 0961-0405
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Abstract: This article examines the process of assessing applications for genetically modified (GM) crops or plants for import or commercial planting in Norway. GMO legislation in Norway is closely linked to the EU through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), to which Norway is a party. A central difference with the EU processes emanates from specific clauses in the Norwegian Gene Technology Act on sustainable development and societal utility, which provide a potentially wider leverage for Norwegian authorities to turn down the applications. Research material indicates evidence of an increasingly restrictive practice in the Norwegian evaluations, raising the question of how this can be explained in the face of increasing global acceptance of GMOs. A related question is to what extent and how this result is affected by the trends in the EU. An increasingly restrictive practice may be explained by changes in the access structure to the evaluating body, or it may be due to learning and a growing acceptance of the precautionary principle in this sector. Third, a higher number of rejections may largely be associated with the interest structure pertaining to GMOs in Norway. Final decisions are pending and there are uncertainties concerning how Norwegian authorities will apply the specific criteria of the Gene Technology Act.

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