Agricultural biotechnology and transatlantic trade : an international political economy analysis of social regulatory barriers
The development and commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) agricultural crops has drawn attention to a complex challenge facing trade diplomacy - the challenge of regulatory regionalism created by social regulatory barriers. Social regulations associated with GM crops have been enacted to ensure food safety, environmental protection and moral, ethical and religious preferences. Regulatory regionalism exists at the transatlantic level where GM crops approved as safe in North America have been delayed or denied market access in the EU because of divergent social regulations. As domestic social regulations have emerged on the trade agenda trade diplomacy is at a crucial crossroads because the traditional integration approach of trade diplomacy fails to acknowledge the endogenous political economy factors responsible for the social regulations within a particular jurisdiction. The research reveals that maintaining the traditional approach will erode public support for trade diplomacy and marginalise it as a viable force in international integration. Given the shortcomings of the traditional trade approach, this study then identifies a regulatory development and integration framework contributing to regulatory stability and enhancing the potential for transatlantic regulatory integration. This Ideal Regulatory Framework essentially builds social credence into the scientific rationality approach. Social credence is built in by ensuring consumer information, trust and choice. The result is a trade diplomacy approach that contributes to regulatory stability and integration by balancing the competing interests within an operational, dynamic, rules-based approach capable of managing the social concerns associated with advanced technologies such as GM crops.