Private Standards and Global Governance
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Private Standards and Global Governance

Economic, Legal and Political Perspectives

Edited by Axel Marx, Miet Maertens, Johan Swinnen and Jan Wouters

The expert contributors assess the state-of-the-art with regard to private regulation of food, natural resources and labor conditions. They begin with an introduction to, and discussion of, several leading existing private standards, and go on to assess private food standards and their legitimacy and effectiveness in the context of the global trade regime.
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Chapter 6: Private Standards, the Organization of Global Supply Chains, and their Impact on Developing Countries

M. Maertens and J. Swinnen


26/6/12/final 6. Private standards, global food supply chains and the implications for developing countries Miet Maertens and Johan Swinnen 1. INTRODUCTION Standards are increasingly dominating world trade and production. This is particularly important in sectors such as food and agricultural exports (Jaffee and Henson, 2005; Maertens and Swinnen, 2007). Over the past decades food standards have increased, with new regulations and requirements from national and international governments as well as from private actors, and standards have focused on different issues such as product quality, food safety and increasingly also ethical and environmental concerns. Many large food companies, supermarket chains and NGOs have engaged in establishing private food standards – that are often stricter than public requirements – and have adapted food quality and safety standards in certification protocols. Examples include GLOBALG.A.P. (formerly EUREPGAP), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standards, Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), Tesco’s Nature’s Choice, Save Quality Food (SQV) Program, etc. Although private standards are legally not mandatory, many of them have become de facto mandatory because of commercial pressure by a large share of buyers in international agri-food markets requiring compliance with such private standards (Henson and Humphrey, 2008). Private standards often go beyond food quality and safety specifications and include ethical and environmental considerations as well. Food standards, public as well as private, have emerged mainly from high-income countries and regions,1 such as the EU and the US, but affect developing countries through trade with high-income regions and the spread of multinational...

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