Labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms: Law, Science, Policy and Practice

  • Author / Creator
    Du, Li
  • The labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been the subject of a global debate for decades. This dissertation, by conducting comprehensive and inter-disciplinary research – from legal, scientific, political and practical perspectives, aims to provide an in-depth analysis of fundamental factors that have contributed to the formation of different labelling regimes, and to justify claims of significant concerns that an optimal labelling regime should be based on and protect. It finds that not only rationales for a mandatory GMO labelling system cannot be justified but also the implementation of mandatory labelling measures may trigger a number of pragmatic problems. It is worth noting that mandatory GMO labelling measures, which lead to conflicts in global agricultural trade, might well violate WTO trade law obligations that are binding on Canada, China, the EU and the US etc. Based on these findings, this study supports voluntary labelling requirements and stands in sharp contrast to the mandatory labelling regimes implemented by the EU and other jurisdictions. It argues that three conditions should be considered to establish an optimal GMO domestic labelling regime. They are: (1) the regime must be based on scientific evidence; (2) it must employ scientific risk assessment and management as the basis for labelling requirements; and (3) the labelling should be accurate and the mission of GMO labelling should be primarily to protect the health of consumers. It thereby suggests that the mandatory labelling requirement should be abandoned in all jurisdictions, and replaced with a voluntary labelling regime and a globally harmonized system of GMO approval procedures and detection methods. The dissertation ends with some lessons drawn from the current GMO labelling controversies to ensure better management of future GMO labelling conflicts and regulation of new agricultural biotechnology. It offers suggestions for perfecting the current Canadian GMO labelling regime.  

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Faculty of Law
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Caulfield, Timothy (Faculty of Law)
    • Reif, Linda (Faculty of Law)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • An, Henry (Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Science)
    • McHughen, Alan (College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of California, UC Riverside)
    • Nelson, Erin (Faculty of Law)
    • Griener, Glenn (Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts)