Biopolitics in the EU and the U.S.: a race to the bottom or convergence to the top?

Prakash, A. and Kollman, K. (2003) Biopolitics in the EU and the U.S.: a race to the bottom or convergence to the top? International Studies Quarterly, 47(4), pp. 617-641. (doi: 10.1046/j.0020-8833.2003.00281.x)

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This paper examines the circumstances under which economic globalization has led (and not led) to a convergence in the regulation of agricultural biotechnology in the European Union (EU) and the United States. While the EU has taken a precautionary approach to regulating biotech products, the U.S. has decided that these products are no different from those made using more traditional methods. As such, the U.S. government has implemented no novel legislation or risk assessment procedures to regulate them. These varying regulatory responses pose an interesting puzzle for scholars who are interested in examining the impact of economic globalization on domestic regulatory institutions and policy outcomes. Despite the fact that agricultural biotech products were developed for highly competitive and globally integrated agri-business markets, the paper argues that biotechnology regulation has followed very different paths in the two polities with the EU mimicking the environmental politics model and the U.S. remaining largely nonadversarial in its approach. We investigate why this has occurred by focusing on differences in the domestic political economies surrounding biotechnology issues in the two regions. The paper then examines why the U.S. biotechnology policy mode recently has shown signs of gravitating toward the EU model, signifying a potential for convergence to the top. Although no new statutes have been enacted or rules adopted yet, there are noticeable changes in the regulatory climate. The paper argues that these changes can be attributed to developments in the domestic political economy, especially the StarLink episode and how this opened the “policy window” for the pressures of globalization to influence the potential ratcheting-up of U.S. standards.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kollman, Professor Kelly
Authors: Prakash, A., and Kollman, K.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:International Studies Quarterly
ISSN (Online):1468-2478
Published Online:07 November 2003

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