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From Mad Cows to GMOs: The Side Effects of Modernization

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Patricia A. Stapleton
Affiliation:
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Abstract

Ulrich Beck's Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity provides a lens through which we can analyze contemporary debates over risk regulation of agricultural biotechnology. This article establishes the political and cultural context into which genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were introduced in the European Union, by reviewing the HIV-contaminated blood scandal, mad cow crisis, and dioxin contamination episode. These public health and food safety scandals exemplify the side effects of modernization as outlined by Beck. Beck also predicted the development of a solidarity arising from the public's anxiety over the global distribution of modernization's risks. The impact of these cases on risk regulation illustrates the political and social reaction to the invisible, global risks of late modernity. The subsequent response to this reaction in European risk regulation further demonstrates the tension between a globalizing market and public anxiety in risk society.

Type
Special Issue on Regulating New and Emerging Technologies
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016

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References

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8 L’Affaire du sang contaminé is the French phrase used to denote the HIV-tainted blood scandal. Though the contamination and cover up occurred in the 1980s, it was not until the early 1990s that the French public became aware of the situation. L’Affaire du sang contaminé usually refers to the time period from when the first policy decisions that would impact the regulation of tainted blood were made (1983) until the last judicial rulings in the resulting courts cases were entered (2002).

9 Ibid.

10 Marlise Simons, “France Convicts 3 in Case of H.I.V.-Tainted Blood,” The New York Times, 24 October 1992.

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16 Ibid.

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18 Simons, “France Convicts 3,” supra note 10.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 Trebilcock et al., “Do Institutions Matter?” supra note 13, at p. 1452; see also Feldman, “Blood Justice,” supra note 11, at p. 663, note 10.

23 Simons, “France Convicts 3,” supra note 10.

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33 Ibid.

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38 Ibid.

39 Ibid.

40 Ibid.

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57 Beck et al., “Public Administration, Science, and Risk Assessment,” supra note 36, at p. 401.

58 Ibid.

59 Ibid.

60 Lledo, Histoire de la vache folle, supra note 31, at p. 39.

61 Lledo, Histoire de la vache folle, supra note 31, at p. 40.

62 Raude, Sociologie d’une crise alimentaire, supra note 48, at p. 7.

63 Ibid.

64 Ibid.

65 Balter, “Tracking the Human Fallout,” supra note 50, at p. 1452. In actuality, as of April 2015, The National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Research & Surveillance Unit (NCJDRSU) – an organization created by the UK government to track vCJD – had confirmed 229 cases worldwide. The overwhelming amount (177 cases or approximately 77% of the total) were in the UK. France had the second highest rate with 27 confirmed cases or approximately 12% of the total. The remaining 25 cases are spread out over ten countries. NCJDRSU, “Variant CJD Cases Worldwide,” available on Internet at < http://www.cjd.ed.ac.uk/documents/report22.pdf > (last accessed 25 October 2015).

66 Raude, Sociologie d’une crise alimentaire, supra note 48, at p. 7-8. Raude illustrates the media's presentation with headlines from that time: “La grande peur de la vache folle” (“The Great Fear of Mad Cow”) from the November 8, 2000 issue of Le Monde; “Un climat de psychose” (“A Psychotic Atmosphere”) from the November 10, 2000 issue of Le Parisien; and “Panique sur le bœuf” (“Panic over Beef”) from the November 17, 2000 issue of France Soir.

67 Barry James, “Europe's Spreading Food Scare: Untangling the Deadly ‘Mad Cow’ Mystery,” New York Times, 7 December 2000.

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70 Lledo, Histoire de la vache folle, supra note 31, at p. 15.

71 Brown, “Mad-Cow Disease in Cattle and Human Beings,” supra note 68, at p. 339.

72 Known in French as matériaux risque spécifiés (MRS), in the context of the BSE crisis, specified risk materials are tissues such as the brains, eyes, spine, and marrow of infected animals that were identified as posing a higher risk of infection.

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78 Vogel, “The Hare and the Tortoise Revisited,” supra note 45, at p. 571.

79 Vogel, “The Hare and the Tortoise Revisited,” supra note 45, at p. 569.

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83 Vogel, “The Hare and the Tortoise Revisited,” supra note 45, at p. 571.

84 Ibid.

85 Vogel, “The Hare and the Tortoise Revisited,” supra note 45, at p. 570.

86 Ibid.

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88 Dioxins are “a group of chemical compounds released by processes such as waste incineration and the burning of household fuel, have been linked to health effects ranging from skin disease to cancer.” Taylor, David A., “Animal Feed to People Food: The Belgian Dioxin Incident,” 109.3 Environmental Health Perspectives, (2001), p. A133 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

89 This listeria outbreak in France came on the heels of two other listeria outbreaks in 1992 and 1993. Although fewer individuals were sickened than the previous outbreaks, of the thirty-three cases in 1995, eleven pregnant women fell ill, resulting in four fetal deaths. The 1995 outbreak was also the first from unpasteurized cheese and was caused by an unusual phage type that had not been seen in other cases in Europe or North America.

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92 McMichael, “Dioxins in Belgian Feed and Food,” supra note 89, at p. 743.

93 Jacob et al., “Government management of two media-facilitated crises,” supra note 90, at p. 264.

94 Ibid.

95 Ibid.

96 McMichael, “Dioxins in Belgian Feed and Food,” supra note 89, at p. 743.

97 Jacob et al., “Government management of two media-facilitated crises,” supra note 90, at p. 264.

98 Ibid.

99 McMichael, “Dioxins in Belgian Feed and Food,” supra note 89, at p. 743.

100 Ibid.

101 N. Ammerlaan, “Chicken Scare Flavour of the Day in Belgian Campaign,” Reuters 31 May 1999, as cited by Jacob et al., “Government management of two media-facilitated crises,” supra note 90, at p. 264.

102 Jacob et al., “Government management of two media-facilitated crises,” supra note 90, at p. 264.

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107 Ibid.

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110 McMichael, “Dioxins in Belgian Feed and Food,” supra note 89, at p. 742.

111 Ibid.

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116 McMichael, “Dioxins in Belgian Feed and Food,” supra note 89, at p. 743; Jacob et al., “Government management of two mediafacilitated crises,” supra note 90, at p. 265.

117 Bonneux and Van Damme, “Iatrogenic Pandemic of Panic,” supra note 103, at p. 786.

118 Jacob et al., “Government management of two media-facilitated crises,” supra note 90, at p. 265.

119 Joelle Meskens, “Paris a déclenché l’artillerie lourde pour rassurer,” Le Soir, 7 June 1999.

120 J.Y. Nau, “Critiquée par la Commission européenne, la France cherche à se justifier,” Le Monde, 8 June 1999.

121 Reuters, “Belgian Farm, Health Ministers Offer to Quit Government,” 1 June 1999, as cited by Jacob et al., “Government management of two media-facilitated crises,” supra note 90, at p. 264.

122 Jacob et al., “Government management of two media-facilitated crises,” supra note 105, at p. 264.

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137 Ibid.

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147 Weimer, “Risk Regulation and Deliberation in EU Administrative Governance,” supra note 146, at p. 625.

148 Directive (EU) Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2015 amending Directive 2001/18/EC as regards the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their territory Text with EEA relevance.

149 For examples of that detailed analysis, see: Weimer, “Risk Regulation and Deliberation in EU Administrative Governance,” supra note 146; Poli, Sara, “Scientific advice in the GMO area,” in Alemanno, A. and Gabbi, S. (eds.), Foundations of EU Food Law and Policy: Ten Years of the European Food Safety Authority (Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2014)Google Scholar; Pollack, Mark and Shaffer, Gregory, “Biotechnology Policy: Between National Fears and Global Disciplines,” in Wallace, , Pollack, , and Young, (eds.), Policy- Making in the European Union, 6th edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 331 Google Scholar et sqq.; Pollack, Mark and Shaffer, Gregory, When Cooperation Fails: the International Law and Politics of Genetically Modified Foods (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lee, Maria, EU Regulation of GMOs: Law and Decision Making for a New Technology (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Chalmers, Damien, “Risk, Anxiety and the European Mediation of the Politics of Life,” 30 European Law Review (2005), p. 649 Google Scholar et sqq.

150 Weimer, “Risk Regulation and Deliberation in EU Administrative Governance,” supra note 146, at p. 624.

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