Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 1–14 | Cite as

Voluntary standards, certification, and accreditation in the global organic agriculture field: a tripartite model of techno-politics

Article

Abstract

This article analyzes the institutionalization of the global organic agriculture field and sheds new light on the conventionalization debate. The institutions that shape the field form a tripartite standards regime of governance (TSR) that links standard-setting, certification, and accreditation activities, in a layering of markets for services that are additional to (and inseparable from) the market for certified organic products. At each of the three poles of the TSR, i.e., for standard-setting, certification, and accreditation, we describe how the corresponding markets were constructed over time and the role of the different actors in their evolution. We analyze the politics at stake among the actors at each pole, their competing or cooperative interests and visions, and the tensions between them in the promotion of markets. Through the lens of the TSR heuristic, we show that the institutionalization of the organic field beginning in the 1990s and its de facto inclusion in the broader sustainability field beginning in the 2000s contribute to a progressive distancing between the organic movement and its initial political project of alterity, to which public and private actors both contribute actively. As a set of interlinked market institutions, the TSR orients and narrows the scope of debate, which becomes restricted to “market-compatible” dimensions and objects. We conclude that the TSR is a promising heuristic for analyzing contemporary global regulation.

Keywords

Tripartite Standard Regime Standards Organic Conventionalization Certification Accreditation Regulation 

Abbreviations

AB

Accreditation Body

CB

Certification Body

EU

European Union

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

IAF

International Accreditation Forum

IFOAM

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

IOAS

International Organic Accreditation Service

ISEAL

International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance

ISO

International Organization for Standardization

PGS

Participatory Guarantee System

SDO

Standard Development Organization

TSR

Tripartite Standard Regime

UNCTAD

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR CEPEL (University of Montpellier) and UMR MOISA (Centre International de Recherche et de coopération Agronomique pour le Développement, CIRAD)Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)Montpellier Cedex 5France
  2. 2.Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Sciences, Innovations et Sociétés (UMR LISIS)Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA)Marne-La-ValléeFrance

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