On the proportionality of EU spatial ex ante coexistence regulations: A comment
In their recent article in this journal, Demont et al. (2009) discuss the effects of alternative spatial ex ante coexistence regulations (SEACERs) in the context of the EU regulatory framework. We retain from Demont et al. (2009) that small pollen barriers should be considered as a possible regulatory option in all identifiable situations in which they are as effective as large isolation distances. This idea is in accordance with the proportionality principle of the 2003 EC Recommendation. But further analysis of how consumer choice and consumer welfare are affected should be conducted before supporting the idea that SEACERs should be flexible, that is that GMO farmers should always have the option of paying their non-GMO neighbours to implement the SEACERs in their own fields. We reject the authors' argument that pollen barriers are necessarily more easily negotiable among neighbours (more "flexible") than are isolation distances. We contest the relation of proportionality to the size of market signals for IP products. We contest the idea of shifting coexistence regulation from ex ante to ex post. We believe that any economic analysis of coexistence measures should include their welfare effects on consumers as well as on producers.