Globalisation And Regulation Of Food Risks

10971 words - 44 pages

Globalisation and Regulation of Food Risks

As globalisation process covers more and more aspects of life and
includes food, it becomes increasingly important to develop consistent
theoretical perspectives on this process. In this paper I will first
identify different theoretical views on globalisation and build on the
views of Giddens and Castells to analyse the globalisation of food
production and consumption. This will lead to the identification of
structural tensions in the regulatory options in this globalising
agri-food networks. The concept of agri-food networks is introduced to
analyse the tension between global and local regulation of food
production and consumption.

1. Introduction.

Regulating the environmental consequences of food production and
consumption as well as the safety of food is no longer the sole
responsibility of independent national states. The development and
implementation of the regulation of food is increasingly influenced by
processes in other, sometimes distant, places. Global trade, including
food trade, has grown rapidly during the last decades leading to a
search for new ways to regulate the impacts on the environment and
safety of food production and consumption. Thus the regulation of food
is globalising, like many other aspects of people's lives and
understanding the changing practices of regulation needs to based on a
consistent social science analysis. There are however different
theoretical perspectives on globalisation within the social sciences
and I will review them to identify the most promising views to analyse
the regulation of food risks. Whereas some theorists see globalisation
as an unequivocal process towards a global world economy, others like
Giddens and Castells regard it as a much more diverse and contingent
process and their views offer more tools for analysing regulation of
food risks at the beginning of the early 21st century.

However, before reviewing these different theoretical perspectives I
would like to summarise some empirical indicators about recent changes
in international food trade.

2. Globalisation of food production and consumption. Empirical
evidence.

The production and consumption of food has had international aspects
for most of the known history of mankind. However, the recent process
of globalisation has definitely shaped the scale as well as the
structure of international food trade.

World trade in agricultural products has grown impressively over the
last decade, while simultaneously world market prices for most
agricultural commodities have gone down. See table 1.

Table 1: World exports in agricultural products:

(index: 1990 = 100)

Agricultural products
---------------------

1992

1994

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

...

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