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Liability and Redress Mechanisms for Damage Caused by GMOs in the Food and Feed Supply Chain

On the basis of the research and recommendations under the study on "Liability and Compensation Schemes for Damage Resulting from the Presence of Genetically Modified Organisms in Non-GM Crops", which ECTIL had produced jointly with the Institute for European Tort Law for the European Commission, ECTIL was invited to embark on a follow-on project by the Co-Extra consortium, which is an integrated research project sponsored by the EU under FP 6 and deals with “GM and non-GM supply chains: their CO-EXistence and TRAceability”. This large-scale multidisciplinary network of researchers around the world brought together 57 partner institutions to deal with scientific, technical, economic, legal and other aspects of how GM and non-GM farming and the distribution of its produce can coexist along the food and feed supply chain, including both practical and economic aspects of identifying transgenic products along the way, in order to guarantee freedom of choice for all stakeholders.

As part of Work Package 7 within this consortium, ECTIL, under the leadership of Prof. Bernhard A. Koch, produced a study on liability and other compensation models for losses caused to third parties in the food and feed supply chain such as consumers. It will further analyse the extent to which environmental liability may be triggered by GM farming and distribution. Cross-border aspects of litigation will equally be addressed.
This second study addressed the remaining varieties of possible damage apart from the purely economic losses already covered. The focus was therefore on damage to persons or property and harm to the environment. National reporters from twenty European and four non-European jurisdictions analyzed on the basis of a uniform questionnaire how such losses would be categorized in their respective legal system, what options the law of delict provides in order to remedy such harm, and what requirements have to be met by potential victims in order to successfully claim compensation. Alternative redress schemes were equally addressed to the extent already available or at least foreseeable. Furthermore, a special report looked at developments in the field of international environmental law by presenting work done on the basis of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in the field of liability. Two authors outlined EU norms governing jurisdiction and choice of law applicable to cross-border disputes. Two further special reports presented an insurers' perspective on biotechnology and provide an economic analysis of liability to third parties for damage caused by GMOs. A comparative report tried to highlight some key aspects of the afore-mentioned contributions to this volume in an overview.
The study was concluded in September 2008. Its output was published in the Tort and Insurance Law series as volume 27.
Vol. 24