Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Published by the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Copyright 2010 Regents of the University of Nebraska.


One of the most intriguing attributes of modern industrial society is its approach to nutrition. Humanity has moved from subsistence economies, where eating was a matter of survival, to economies characterized by the existence of an ever increasing variety of food products. An important recent addition to the types of food products included in our diet has been that of genetically modified (GM) products.

Despite their important agronomic benefits to agricultural producers (e.g., increased yields and/or reduced input costs), GM products have been facing a rather strong consumer opposition. Fears related to potential health and environmental effects of genetic modification, as well as moral and philosophical concerns, have consistently been cited as the driving forces behind the expressed consumer aversion to GM products. This consumer opposition varies significantly between countries, and so does the countries’ regulatory response to products of biotechnology. For instance, while the United States, the world leader in GM production, treats biotech products as substantially equivalent to their conventional counterparts and does not require their segregation and labeling, the European Union (EU), based on its “precautionary principle” and consumers’ “right to know,” has instituted a mandatory labeling regime that is regarded as the strictest in the world.