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Regulating Risk in a Global Economy: Law, Politics and the Struggle to Govern Genetically Modified Foods

Pollack, Mark A. (2007) Regulating Risk in a Global Economy: Law, Politics and the Struggle to Govern Genetically Modified Foods. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

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    [From the introduction]. In this book we investigate these challenges – regulating risk in a global economy – through the prism of the United States (US)-European dispute over the regulation of agricultural biotechnology, or, as more popularly known, genetically modified organisms (GMOs).7 The book addresses the interaction of domestic law and politics, transnational networks, international regimes, and global markets in this area. It starts by examining the US and European regulatory differences that gave rise to the conflict, examining the sources of the differences and their impact on the prospects for regulatory convergence or accommodation. It shows how conflicts arise when national regulations become barriers to international trade, and how they can become particularly bitter and intractable when, as in the case of GMOs, they concern the regulation of risk to society. It then addresses attempts to reconcile these differences through transnational networks and multilateral institutions – which have, as we shall see, enjoyed a record of at best mixed success over the past several decades. The US/EU dispute, and whether it can be resolved through deliberative networks or international regimes, matters profoundly, we argue, not just for those countries but for the rest of the world, whose regulation of genetically modified (GM) foods and crops is likely to be influenced by the outcome of the transatlantic conflict. In analyzing the ongoing struggle over the regulation of agricultural biotechnology, we draw upon, and seek to contribute to, rich literatures on politics and law, at both the domestic and international levels. At the domestic level, we ask why the US and EU systems for the regulation of GM foods and crops look as different as they do, and we survey theories of comparative politics that attribute differences in domestic regulation to differences in organized interests, political institutions, culture and ideas, and contingent events, respectively. We also ask about the development of the two regulatory systems over time, drawing on the historical institutionalist literature to understand the conditions under which different regulatory systems are subject to inertia or path-dependence, resisting pressures for change or displaying change only at the margins. We argue that the current “regulatory polarization” between the United States and the European Union cannot be traced to any single factor, but reflects the efforts of domestic interest groups advocating their preferences in specific institutional and cultural contexts, with a significant role played by contingent events on each side. The adoption of starkly different regulatory systems on each side of the Atlantic was not inevitable, we argue, but once these systems were in place, their subsequent development has been incremental, marginal, and path-dependent.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-US
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > regulations/regulatory policies
    EU policies and themes > External relations > international economy
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > agriculture policy
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2007 (10th), May 17-19, 2007
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2008
    Page Range: p. 47
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:51

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