Plant research and breeding has made substantial technical progress over the past few decades, indicating a potential for tremendous societal impact. Due to this potential, the development of policies and legislation on plant breeding and the technical progress should preferably involve all relevant stakeholders. However, we argue here that there is a substantial imbalance in the European Union (EU) regarding the influence of the various stakeholder groups on policy makers. We use evidence from three examples in order to show that the role of science is overlooked: 1) important delays in the decision process concerning the authorization of genetically modified (GM) maize events, 2) the significance attributed to non-scientific reasons in new legislation concerning the prohibition of GM events in EU member states, and 3) failure of the European Commission to deliver legal guidance to new plant breeding techniques despite sufficient scientific evidence and advisory reports. We attribute this imbalance to misinformation and misinterpretation of public perceptions and a disproportionate attention to single outlier reports, and we present ideas on how to establish a better stakeholder balance within this field.
- European Union
- plant research