Case Study 2: Genetically Modified organisms (GMOs)

About the case

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are the product of advanced biotechnology and are non-naturally occurring plants, animals and microorganisms whose genomes have been altered intentionally and artificially.

The modification is typically achieved by inserting a gene from another, often unrelated, organism into the DNA of the host, with the intention of introducing a new trait. Despite their numerous applications, commonly GMOs are most frequently associated with crops and foods.

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Not one opinion over more than a decade of debate has been rooted into scientific evidence, findings, or understandings without connecting these underlying values and attitudes. Instead, it was everything else, resulting in legislative provisions that equates scientific evidence of threat to any other source of information.

Brief summary of the case study

This case study looks into the evolution of the Bulgarian regulatory context around GMOs and the ensuing policy discourse. It aims to investigate and demonstrate the relevance of the precautionary principle and its integration within legislative and broader debates in the country. It recounts the legislative experience in the adoption of the Law on Genetically Modified Organisms (LGMO), and on key amendments in the period 2003-2017.

While derived from EU law, the Bulgarian LGMO is considered to be rather conservative and restrictive, and is discussed in this study as an example of a strong precautionary principle - adopting explicitly cautious approach to risk management

The case also demonstrates how scientific uncertainty can translate into legislative uncertainty, due to different interpretations and perceptions of the scope, severity and impact of risks. It concludes with a short discussion of the repercussions on innovation, narratives on which were entirely absent from the Bulgarian parliamentary debate on the LGMO.

A short video from the case study author

In this video, Ventseslav Kozarev (Applied Research and Communications Fund) briefly presents the Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) case study, and the relevance of the precautionary principle and its integration within legislative and broader debates in his country, Bulgaria.




Ventseslav Kozarev, Applied Research and Communications Fund
Zoya Damianova, Applied Research and Communications Fund
Desislava Asenova, Applied Research and Communications Fund

Case Study
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