The Transformation of Food Safety Laws through International Standards

By Genevieve Parent and Marie-Claude Desjardins.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Globalization has not only brought changes to the way agriculture is practiced, it also has modified the way it is regulated. Whereas in the past, each state defined and implemented its own regulation to ensure food safety and security of its citizens, nowadays many of them replace traditional national regulation by or develop their regulation based on international standards. These standards offer many advantages to farmers and consumers in the current globalized context. On the one hand, they facilitate agricultural commercial exchanges. It is no longer necessary for farmers and food processors to know about the different applicable laws of the countries where their production is exported to. They only need to comply with one set of international standards. On the other hand, these standards guarantee a high level of food safety worldwide, which constitutes a concrete benefit for consumers. In spite of their advantages, international standards, which are not only elaborated by states but also by private entities, raise some important issues. First of all, they bring some concerns in terms of legitimacy. Is there a risk to allowing private entities to decide on the rules governing agriculture, especially on food safety and security matters? Does it contribute to enlarging the access to democracy or does it disadvantage the poorest? It is worth considering the impact of international standards on small scale agriculture producers in developing countries? This raises the following question: are the third world farmers in a position to comply with such standards within a short term? If not, these standards would probably result in a restriction of the market access for small producers. Finally, the possibility to take into account cultural preferences, which is an important aspect of food security, may be problematic. These are the challenges we intend to discuss in our paper.

Keywords: Globalization, Food and Agriculture Law, International Standards, Food Safety and Security

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.11-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 795.822KB).

Prof. Genevieve Parent

Aggregate Professor, Faculty of Law, Laval University, Quebec, Quebec, Canada

Geneviève Parent is a professor at the Laval University Faculty of Law and a member of the Steering Committee of the Centre d’études en droit économique (CÉDÉ) of the Laval University Faculty of Law. She specializes in food security, national and international agrifood law. Her studies analyze the impact of the international economic law on Canadian legislations and tries to seek more coherence in international law on behalf of food security. Among other publications: Parent G. et al., Pour une meilleure cohérence des normes internationales: reconnaître la spécificité agricole et alimentaire pour le respect des droits humains, Cowansville, Éditions Yvon Blais et Bruylant, 154p.; Arbour, J.-M. et G. Parent, Droit international public, Cowansville, Éditions Yvon Blais, 2006, 1037p; Parent G., «Le système de gestion de l’offre en produits laitiers au Canada: un pont désormais fragile entre agriculture et marchés», Revue Lamy de la Concurrence, RLC 2010/25, no 1670, p. 114–115; Parent G. et L. Mayer-Robitaille, «Agriculture et culture: le défi de l’OMC de prendre en compte les considérations non commerciales», (2007) 52 R.D. McGill 415.

Prof. Marie-Claude Desjardins

Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

Marie-Claude Desjardins is a Professor at the University of Sherbrooke Faculty of Law. She specializes in Sustainable Development Law and Corporate Social Responsibility Law. Her current studies focus on alternative forms of regulation as a way to ensure environmental protection and social development.