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Legitimation by standards : Transnational experts, the European Commission and regulation of novel foods - D. Demortain

David Demortain
ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, WC2A 2AE London, United Kingdom

Available online 6 October 2009 on ScienceDirect

How do voluntary standards get put to use in European Union policy ? A study of how a particular private-sector voluntary standard was imported and developed for use in EU policy offers grounds for interpreting the power relations among carriers of the standard, a transnational group of scientific experts and the European Commission. Far from involving a mere linear transfer, the process of importing a new standard for ensuring the health safety of “novel foods” gave rise to exchanges, competition and disagreement that worked to define the boundaries of the public policy sector and the territory of each group of actors within it. The ground gained by scientific experts thanks to a new standard granting them an increased role in regulating new foods was counterbalanced by the authority of the European Commission, since it has control over interpreting EU law.

Keywords : Voluntary standards ; Scientific experts ; European Commission ; EU policy ; Novel foods ; Food safety

Article Outline

  • 1. The career of a standard, or the emerging regulation of functional foods
    • 1.1. Postlaunch monitoring : from experimental practice to guideline
    • 1.2. The space in which the standard was developed
  • 2. Developing a standard and sector-specific tools
    • 2.1. The work of developing the standard
    • 2.2. Emergence of a standard, emergence of a problem
    • 2.3. Formalizing a sector-specific tool set
  • 3. The standard and definition of policy territories
    • 3.1. Postlaunch monitoring : experts’ tool or government tool ?
    • 3.2. European Commission unit resources and intervention
  • 4. Conclusion
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 51, Supplement 2, November 2009, Pages e104–e116
Translation by Amy Jacobs