Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Governing Agricultural Biotechnologies in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany: A Trans-decadal Study of Regulatory Cultures

Ely, Adrian; Friedrich, Beate; Glover, Dominic; Fischer, Klara; Stone, Glenn Davis; Kingiri, Ann; Schnurr, Matthew A.


Comparative studies of agricultural biotechnology regulation have highlighted differences in the roles that science and politics play in decision-making. Drawing on documentary and interview evidence in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, we consider how the "regulatory cultures" that guided national responses to earlier generations of agricultural biotechnology have developed, alongside the emergence of genome editing in food crops. We find that aspects of the "product-based" regulatory approach have largely been maintained in US biosafety frameworks and that the British and German approaches have at different stages combined "process-based" and "programmatic" elements that address the scientific and sociopolitical novelty of genome editing to varying degrees. We seek to explain these patterns of stability and change by exploring how changing opportunity structures in each jurisdiction have enabled or constrained public reasoning around emerging agricultural biotechnologies. By showing how opportunity structures and regulatory cultures interact over the long-term, we provide insights that help us to interpret current and evolving dynamics in the governance of genome editing and the longer-term development of agricultural biotechnology.


genome editing; biotechnology; genetic modification; GMO; governance; policy; regulation

Published in

Science, Technology, and Human Values

Authors' information

Ely, Adrian
University of Sussex
Friedrich, Beate
Leuphana University Luneburg
Glover, Dominic
Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Stone, Glenn Davis
Sweet Briar College
Kingiri, Ann
African Centre for Technologiy Studies
Schnurr, Matthew A.
Dalhousie University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

UKÄ Subject classification

Genetics and Breeding
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)