Harmonising the governance of farming risks: agricultural biosecurity and biotechnology in Australia

Dibden, Jacqui, Higgins, Vaughan, and Cocklin, Chris (2011) Harmonising the governance of farming risks: agricultural biosecurity and biotechnology in Australia. Australian Geographer, 42 (2). pp. 105-122.

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International governmental bodies, such as the World Trade Organisation, are an increasingly prominent feature of global agri-food governance. They are instrumental not only in the dismantling of trade barriers but also in the promotion of a range of rules and standards. These rules are aimed broadly at harmonising national policies and practices so that differences are reduced and free trade is enhanced. Harmonisation is a crucial aspect of modern practices of governing, yet it has so far been given little critical attention in the agri-food and broader social science literature. Focusing on two contested policy fields with important consequences for Australian rural areas—quarantine regulations and the approval of genetically modified crops for commercial release—this paper examines how global forms of governing relating to risk assessment are constituted, rendered workable, debated and reconfigured at a national level as part of an ‘assemblage’ of trade liberalisation practices. We argue that the practice of harmonisation at a national scale is a complex process in which sovereignty is increasingly dispersed as national risk assessment processes are contested by corporations, trading partners and domestic political actors. The adoption of international rules may reinforce state sovereignty by legitimising desired policy changes, but it may also undermine domestic social, economic and environmental agendas.

Item ID: 17501
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: assemblage; Australia; biosecurity; biotechnology; governance; harmonisation; SPS Agreement; World Trade Organisation
ISSN: 1465-3311
Funders: Australian Research Council
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2011 05:32
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070108 Sustainable Agricultural Development @ 20%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160401 Economic Geography @ 20%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160804 Rural Sociology @ 60%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960704 Land Stewardship @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960705 Rural Land Policy @ 50%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 2
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