GM-free private standards and their effects on biosafety decision-making in developing countries
We provide a comprehensive review of international cases where GM-free private standards set up by food companies in developed countries have influenced biosafety policymaking in developing countries. We find 29 cases where private importers have directly or indirectly affected policy decisions in 21 countries. Most of the cases relate irrational fear of export losses to excessively precautionary decisions. These cases are based on two generally misleading premises: the belief that Europe or Japan represents the only market for exports, and the perception that non-GM segregation is infeasible or prohibitively costly in all situations. Our study also demonstrates the importance of information asymmetries across countries and agents and the role of risk aversion in seemingly irrational decision-making. The combination of these four factors helps us explain why presumed but unproven expected commercial losses still represents a significant impediment to biosafety policymaking in developing countries.
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