The limits of regulatory convergence: globalization and GMO politics in the south

Original Paper

Abstract

Is globalization promoting regulatory convergence in agricultural biotechnology policies in the South? This article examines the nature and limits of regulatory convergence in the field of agri-biotechnology and investigates the effects that international forces have on biotechnology and biosafety policies in developing countries. Based on detailed case studies of Mexico, China and South Africa this article shows that these three leading biotechnology countries in the South are exposed to powerful international influences but are responding to the regulatory challenges of genetically modified organisms (GMO) adoption in distinctive ways. The existing regulatory polarization between US and EU biotechnology approaches has not forced a convergence around either of these two international models. GMO policies in the South do not simply follow the binary logic of the US–EU regulatory conflict. Instead, they integrate elements from both regulatory approaches and are steering a course that suggests substantial regulatory diversity in the South. The globalization of biotechnology thus goes hand in hand with regulatory diversity in the developing world. Furthermore, regulatory polarization between the EU and US has helped to open up political space in key developing countries.

Keywords

Globalization Regulatory convergence Agricultural biotechnology Biosafety Developing countries 

Abbreviations

ACB

African Center for Biosafety (South Africa)

CIBIOGEM

Comisión Intersecretarial de Bioseguridad y Organismos Genéticamente Modificados—Inter-Sectoral Commission on Biosafety and Genetically Modified Organisms, Mexico

CPB

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

DTI

Department of Trade and Industry (South Africa)

EU

European Union

GATT

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

GM

Genetically modified

GMO

Genetically modified organism

NAFTA

North American Free Trade Agreement

MOA

Ministry of Agriculture (China)

MOST

Ministry of Science of Technology (China)

OECD

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

SEPA

State Environmental Protection Agency (China)

SPS

WTO Agreement on Applications of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

US

United States

WTO

World Trade Organization

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London School of EconomicsLondonUK
  2. 2.Wageningen University6706 KN WageningenNetherlands

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