Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 285–300

Food Supply Chain Governance And Public Health Externalities: Upstream Policy Interventions And The UK State


DOI: 10.1007/s10806-007-9034-0

Cite this article as:
Barling, D. J Agric Environ Ethics (2007) 20: 285. doi:10.1007/s10806-007-9034-0


Contemporary food supply chains are generating externalities with high economic and social costs, notably in public health terms through the rise in diet-related non-communicable disease. The UK State is developing policy strategies to tackle these public health problems alongside intergovernmental responses. However, the governance of food supply chains is conducted by, and across, both private and public spheres and within a multilevel framework. The realities of contemporary food governance are that private interests are key drivers of food supply chains and have institutionalized a great deal of standards-setting and quality, notably from their locations in the downstream and midstream sectors. The UK State is designing some downstream and some midstream interventions to ameliorate the public health impacts of current food consumption patterns in England. The UK State has not addressed upstream interventions towards public health diet at the primary food production and processing stages, although traditionally it has shaped agricultural policy. Within the realities of contemporary multilevel governance, the UK State must act within the contexts set by the international regimes of the Common Agricultural Policy and the World Trade Organization agreements, notably on agriculture. The potential for further upstream agricultural policy reform is considered as part of a wider policy approach to address the public health externalities issuing from contemporary food supply chains within this multilevel governance context.


The Stateagricultural policy and public healthfood governanceWorld Health Organization

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Food PolicyCity UniversityLondonUK