No alternative? The politics and history of non-GMO certification
Third-party certification is an increasingly prevalent tactic which agrifood activists use to “help” consumers shop ethically, and also to reorganize commodity markets. While consumers embrace the chance to “vote with their dollar,” academics question the potential for labels to foster widespread political, economic, and agroecological change. Yet, despite widespread critique, a mounting body of work appears resigned to accept that certification may be the only option available to activist groups in the context of neoliberal socio-economic orders. At the extreme, Guthman (Antipode 39(3): 457, 2007 ) posits that “at this political juncture… ‘there is no alternative.” This paper offers a different assessment of third-party certification, and points to interventions that are potentially more influential that are currently available to activist groups. Exploring the evolution of the Non-GMO Project—a novel certification for foods that are reasonably free of genetically engineered (GE) material—I make two arguments. First, I echo the literature’s critical perspective by illustrating how certification projects become vulnerable to industry capture. Reviewing its history and current context, I suggest that the Non-GMO Project would be better suited to helping companies avoid mounting public criticism than to substantially reorient agrifood production. Second, I explore the “politics of the possible” in the current political economy and argue that while neoliberalization and organizers’ places within the food system initially oriented the group towards the private sector, the choice to pursue certification arose directly from two industry partnerships. Consequently, current trends might favor market mechanisms, but certification is only one possible intervention that has emerged as a result of particular, and perhaps avoidable, circumstances. The article offers tentative delineation of alternatives ways that activists might intervene in agrifood and political economic systems given present constraints. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 26 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.springer.com|
Web page: https://afhvs.wildapricot.org/
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/10460|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Robin Roff, 2007. "Shopping for change? Neoliberalizing activism and the limits to eating non-GMO," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 24(4), pages 511-522, December.
- Hallman, William K. & Hebden, W. Carl & Cuite, Cara L. & Aquino, Helen L. & Lang, John T., 2004. "Americans And Gm Food: Knowledge, Opinion And Interest In 2004," Working Papers 18175, Rutgers University, Food Policy Institute.
- Harvey, David, 2007. "A Brief History of Neoliberalism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199283279, April.
- Aimee Shreck, 2005. "Resistance, redistribution, and power in the Fair Trade banana initiative," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 22(1), pages 17-29, 03.
- Colin Hines, 2003. "Time to Replace Globalization with Localization," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 3(3), pages 1-7, 08.
- Patricia Allen & Martin Kovach, 2000. "The capitalist composition of organic: The potential of markets in fulfilling the promise of organic agriculture," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 17(3), pages 221-232, September.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:26:y:2009:i:4:p:351-363. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)or (Rebekah McClure)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.