The Politics of Food Regulation and Reform in Ireland
Article first published online: 12 AUG 2004
Volume 82, Issue 3, pages 585–603, August 2004
How to Cite
Taylor, G. and Millar, M. (2004), The Politics of Food Regulation and Reform in Ireland. Public Administration, 82: 585–603. doi: 10.1111/j.0033-3298.2004.00408.x
- Issue published online: 12 AUG 2004
- Article first published online: 12 AUG 2004
Amid a period of increasing political anxiety generated by the BSE crisis, the Irish Government sought to replace a confusing medley of food regulations with a single agency responsible for regulating food from the ‘farm to the fork’. Presented as a radical departure from a regime previously discredited, its remit would be to redefine the relationship between risk assessment, management and communication. In this context, the paper puts forward three principal arguments. First, that while the Minister for Health and Children was keen to extol both the scientific credentials of the agency, and the importance of shifting regulatory responsibility from the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAF) to the Department of Health and Children (DOHC), what remains novel is the manner in which reform has managed to retain political access for influential agri-business interests. Second, that any reform undertaken should be fully cognisant of the international agreements between the European Union and the World Trade Organisation which extended further a free market in food trade. The agency's institutional architecture therefore was framed with the intention of restoring market confidence without threatening the habitat of those multi-national companies that occupy this arena. Finally, that the role of science (and risk) in food regulation has altered. Rather than perform the task of sustaining order through responsible government, science now participates in (re)constituting order through the market.