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Abstract: This case traces the development of genetically-modified (GM) foods in the United States and in Europe. The US had from the start a commanding lead in GM food development and a correspondingly large stake in global acceptance of GM seeds and foods. The case describes evolving and contrasting US and European consumer attitudes toward GM foods' general acceptance in the US, versus a worried rejection in Europe. The case discusses how US government and corporate leaders were convinced at first that Europe was indulging in protectionist activity, but came over time to understand that the European reaction was mostly consumer-driven and derived from citizens' suspicion of government's ability to understand and regulate scientific discoveries sufficiently to protect public health. Still, US food corporations were alarmed when in 2002 Zambia refused to accept desperately-needed US food aid on the grounds that US-made GM products might preclude Zambia selling its own produce to Europe.
Learning Objective: Students will gain insight into how complex international negotiations are conducted; the political and emotional components of scientific debate; and the challenges of coming to agreement on emotionally-charged, health-related food issues. They will have the chance to discuss how the US should approach the labyrinth of international for a created to manage this problem.