Marketing genetically modified organisms

Date of publication: February 1, 1996

Author: Gill Norriss


The paper takes a case study of the potential introduction of a new agricultural technology. It considers the introduction and marketing strategy for transgenic herbicide resistance, one of the first widespread applications of genetically modified organisms to be introduced into Europe. We are about two years away from the launch of such technology across the EU. After probably ten years of research, market availability of plant varieties carrying a modified gene which confers specific resistance to a particular herbicide is imminent. The technology promises considerable economic advantages to the farmer and could radically change both the seed and agrochemical markets in Europe. The research scientists working on the technique are convinced of its value to agriculture. Others are not so sure. The words "genetic engineering" strike a concerned note amongst consumers. There are emotive reactions and there are more genuine anxieties about the longer term effects on the environment and health. Some would have all foods derived from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) labelled accordingly. These public concerns are leading legislators and policy makers to put several administrative or legal hurdles in front of the technology before full approval for marketing.

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