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Gmo Neighbourhoods – Will Co-Existence Be A Geographically Realistic Possibility?

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In Denmark, there has been widespread opposition to the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as a result of which rules have been developed relating to the co-existence of GM, conventionally and organically produced crops. This has been in the form of a spatially elaborated implementation of the precautionary principle adopted in the Maastricht Treaty from 1992 by the EU.

We concretized these rules in relation to actual landscape practices among primary producers of sugar beet in Denmark, and simulated the co-existence of GM and conventional sugar beet in an area of intensive sugar beet production in Lolland, South Eastern Denmark. The theoretical basis for our work finds three major sources of inspiration; namely Ulrich Beck's theory of the ‘risk society’, Torsten H├Ągerstrand's concept of ‘the process landscape’ and its relation to the social practices of land users, and Bri-an Wynne's studies of the discrepancy between theoretical and practical knowledge related to environmental risk.

The farmers, who were involved in the study, were interviewed concerning their opinions on land-use practices in cases of co-existence. Interviews were carried out both before and after the study took place. It is concluded that although the farmers are positive towards the possibility of introducing GM sugar beet, it is not realistic to expect the rules of co-existence to be observed, which makes the risk assessment behind the new rules unrealistic. Further studies of social practice in relation to trends and geographical variations in the distribution of structure, size and fragmentation of agricultural holdings are recommended in order to investigate possibilities for realistic co-existence.
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Keywords: GM crops; GMO; co-existence; neighbourhood relations; practical knowledge; process landscape; regulation; simulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Roskilde University, Denmark

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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