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Seeds, food and trade wars: Public opinion and policy responses in the USA and Europe

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The political debate over genetically modified foods entered a new phase when the USA (under the Bush Administration) threatened legal actions within the World Trade Organization (WTO) against a moratorium of these products in the European Union. This paper focuses on developing a societal context in which these political disputes arose though an investigation of public opinion polls conducted in both the USA and Europe. While some differences do exist with regards to opinions toward biotechnology, any contention that the WTO case is a direct outcome of public opinion is tenuous. The special interest groups that have vested interests in supporting or opposing biotechnology are likely to be the ones fanning the transatlantic flames, and arguing that public opinion is in their favour.Journal of Commercial Biotechnology (2004) 10, 258–267; doi:10.1057/

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1Sociology Department, 316 Berkey Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1111, USA

Publication date: 2004-03-01

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