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Harmonising the Governance of Farming Risks: agricultural biosecurity and biotechnology in Australia


Dibden, J and Higgins, V and Cocklin, C, Harmonising the Governance of Farming Risks: agricultural biosecurity and biotechnology in Australia, Australian Geographer, 42, (2) pp. 105-122. ISSN 0004-9182 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 Geographical Society of New South Wales Inc. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Australian Geographer on 1/6/2011, available online:

DOI: doi:10.1080/00049182.2011.569983


International governmental bodies, such as the World Trade Organisation, are an increasingly prominent feature of global agri-food governance. They are instrumental not only in the dismantling of trade barriers but also in the promotion of a range of rules and standards. These rules are aimed broadly at harmonising national policies and practices so that differences are reduced and free trade is enhanced. Harmonisation is a crucial aspect of modern practices of governing, yet it has so far been given little critical attention in the agri-food and broader social science literature. Focusing on two contested policy fields with important consequences for Australian rural areas—quarantine regulations and the approval of genetically modified crops for commercial release—this paper examines how global forms of governing relating to risk assessment are constituted, rendered workable, debated and reconfigured at a national level as part of an ‘assemblage’ of trade liberalisation practices. We argue that the practice of harmonisation at a national scale is a complex process in which sovereignty is increasingly dispersed as national risk assessment processes are contested by corporations, trading partners and domestic political actors. The adoption of international rules may reinforce state sovereignty by legitimising desired policy changes, but it may also undermine domestic social, economic and environmental agendas.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:farming, risk, biosecurity, biotechnology, Australia
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Rural sociology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Higgins, V (Professor Vaughan Higgins)
ID Code:138171
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:21
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2020-03-26
Last Modified:2020-06-23
Downloads:37 View Download Statistics

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