WHY ARE US AND EU POLICIES TOWARD GMOs SO DIFFERENT?
The development of genetically modified (GM) agricultural products requires new policies to manage potential food safety and environmental risks. The policy positions taken to date on GM foods by the United States and the European Union are very different. The US has few restrictions on production and trade in GM food products and no costly labelling requirements, whereas the EU has close to a ban on the production and importation of GM foods. This paper seeks to explain (a) why both the US and EU policies are extreme in the light of the uncertainty about the risks associated with GM foods, (b) what their consequences are for income distribution and trade in farm products, and (c) what it means for the GM policies and economic welfare of people in other (particularly developing) countries. In this paper we use the GTAP global economy wide model to estimate the extent of the trade, national welfare and income distributional effects of the actual policy choices of the US and the EU as compared with what they would be if GM products were adopted with less-distortionary GM policies. The distributional effects are used to also shed light on why the US and EU have adopted such different sub-optimal GM policies.
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