In July 2018 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that organisms obtained from most New Plant Breeding Technologies (NPBT) fulfil the requirements of the GMO definition of Directive 2001/18. Practically, organisms created with NPBT have since been legally treated as GMOs. While we do not seek to contest the judgment in itself, in the present contribution we draw attention to the effects of such a categorisation from the perspective of communication science. Extrapolating from communication research conducted in adjacent technology domains, we will argue that by putting organisms obtained from NPBT semantically in the same basket as GMOs may carry a serious risk – transferring analogous communication problems that GMOs encountered in the past, to organisms obtained from NPBT, while they may not address similar risks. Possible consequences such as these can hardly be considered at the stage of legal interpretation (such as with the CJEU). Rather, as discussion now unfolds whether and how to change the legal definition, insights from communication science and risk perception research on the effect of such a definition should be taken into account.
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