Institutionalization and Its Consequences: The Transnational Legal Order for Food Safety

Book Section

This chapter analyzes the institutionalization of the transnational legal order(s) for the safety of internationally traded agricultural goods for human consumption ("food safety"). Today, in the public realm, the TLO for trade-related food safety is jointly underpinned by two international organizations (and their rules and procedures): the World Trade Organization, WTO, on the basis of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, and the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a hybrid public-private body jointly created by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. Following Halliday and Shaffer, I ask first: Does Codex Alimentarius standard-setting under the SPS-Agreement meet the definition of a TLO? I find that it does. But what exactly is being ordered by this TLO for food safety? Each TLO corresponds to an issue area, i.e., an issue or behavior that allegedly "need[s] to be addressed transnationally" to avoid problems or undesirable consequences for some stakeholders (Halliday and Shaffer 2013:37). Before we can assess how well the legal and geographic scope of the TLO fit the issue as conceived by the actors at the time, it is necessary to establish how the issue came to be understood as it was understood by those actors at that time. I will therefore examine in this chapter the development of food aid as a distinct issue in need of transnational ordering, including how food aid came to be seen as a trade issue, keeping in mind that the conceptual, legal, and geographic boundaries of both the issue and the TLO are socially and politically constructed, and it is highly likely that there is some recursivity between the two processes.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Büthe, T

Cited Editors

  • Halliday, T; Shaffer, G

Published Date

  • 2013

Book Title

  • Transnational Legal Orders

Published By