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EU Regulation of Genetically Modified Microorganisms in Light of New Policy Developments

AAEA members publish new European research in AEPP

Previously, literature on the European Court of Justice (CJEU) decision on mutagenic techniques has focused on implications for plant breeding. New research assesses the implications for investing in genetically modified microorganisms (GMMs) by using a real-option model in continuous time, discrete state that considers the research phase, the approval phase, market phase, and ex-post liability. This is a methodological innovation in comparison to previous studies that only considered ex-ante safety policies and ex-post liabilities. This modelling framework allows to assess qualitatively the impacts of different regulatory options for governing the approval of GMMs.

In an article published in AEPP, “EU regulation of genetically modified microorganisms in light of new policy developments: Possible implications for EU bioeconomy investments” Justus Wesseler, and Marthe Meulenbroek from Wageningen University, Gijs Kleter from Wageningen Food Safety Research  and Kai Purnhagen from the University of Bayreuth find out if the decision by the CJEU to consider organisms derived by new mutagenic methods as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has implications for investment and research on the use of GMMs and if so, what are they?

Wesseler says, “We have five main findings. The first being that new mutagenic methods such as CRISPR-Cas are widely used for developing GMMs and this is important for developing solutions for sustainable development not only in the EU. Next, as GMMs developed by new mutagenic methods fall under the regulations for GMOs, investment costs in the EU may largely increase. Then, one additional year in approval requires about 70 or more percent in benefits to justify immediate investment. We also found that exempting GMMs from GMO law and regulations at Member State level has, as a regulatory option, the highest stimulus on investment in GMMs. And lastly we found that proposed solutions to reduce approval costs based on the existing legal environment and political environment will have limited chances of success, and more radical changes will be needed to stimulate investments in GMMs.”

If you are interested in setting up an interview, please contact Allison Ware in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

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