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Beyond Equal: From Same but Different to the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence

Paull, John (2008) Beyond Equal: From Same but Different to the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence. M/C Journal of Media and Culture, 11 (26).

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A same-but-different dichotomy has recently been encapsulated within the ill-defined concept of “substantial equivalence”. By invoking this concept the genetically modified organism (GMO) industry has escaped the rigors of safety testing that might otherwise apply.
The curious concept of “substantial equivalence” grants a presumption of safety to GMO food. This presumption has yet to be earned, and has been used to constrain labelling of both GMO and non-GMO food. It is an idea that well serves corporatism. It enables the claim of difference to secure patent protection, while upholding the contrary claim of sameness to avoid labelling and safety scrutiny. It offers the best of both worlds for corporate food entrepreneurs, and delivers the worst of both worlds to consumers.
The term “substantial equivalence” has established its currency within the GMO discourse. As the opportunities for patenting food technologies expand, the GMO recruitment of this concept will likely be a dress rehearsal for the developing debates on the labelling and testing of other techno-foods - including nano-foods and clone-foods.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:substantial equivalence, GMO, genetically modified food, nano-food, nanotechnology, rBST, same but different, patent, USFDA, GMO milk, non-GMO milk, labelling, labeling, organic standards, organic food.
Subjects: Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Values, standards and certification
Research affiliation:Australia > Australian National University
Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:13485
Deposited On:30 Jun 2008
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:37
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted
Additional Publishing Information:preprint version

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