Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 373–388 | Cite as

Participatory guarantee systems and the re-imagining of Mexico’s organic sector

  • Erin Nelson
  • Laura Gómez Tovar
  • Elodie Gueguen
  • Sally Humphries
  • Karen Landman
  • Rita Schwentesius Rindermann


Although it is the most widely accepted form of organic guarantee, third party certification can be inaccessible for small-scale producers and promotes a highly market-oriented vision of organics. By contrast, participatory guarantee systems (PGS) are based on principles of relationship-building, mutual learning, trust, context-specificity, local control, diversity, and collective action. This paper uses the case study of the Mexican Network of Local Organic Markets to explore how PGS can be used to support a more alternative vision of organics, grounded in the notion of food sovereignty. It presents some of the key challenges and opportunities associated with the approach, and highlights its potential to serve as a locally-based institution for collective action, thereby offering some structural support to alternative agri-food initiatives.


Certification Organic agriculture Participatory guarantee systems Food sovereignty Mexico 



International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements


Participatory guarantee systems



The authors would like to thank the producers, consumers and organizers of the Mexican Network of Local Organic Markets, without whom the research presented here would not have been possible. They also acknowledge Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and International Development Research Centre for the generous funding provided.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin Nelson
    • 1
  • Laura Gómez Tovar
    • 2
  • Elodie Gueguen
    • 2
  • Sally Humphries
    • 3
  • Karen Landman
    • 1
  • Rita Schwentesius Rindermann
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Environmental Design and Rural DevelopmentUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of AgroecologyUniversidad Autónoma ChapingoChapingoMexico
  3. 3.Department of Sociology/AnthropologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  4. 4.Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias para el Desarrollo Rural Integral (CIIDRI)Universidad Autónoma ChapingoChapingoMexico

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