The role of the state for managing voluntary food sustainability standards democratically

Sanderson Bellamy, Angelina and Gomes, Marcus and Mulling Neutzling, Daiane and Kumar, Vikas (2023) The role of the state for managing voluntary food sustainability standards democratically. Journal of Rural Studies, 103. p. 103126. ISSN 0743-0167

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We have investigated the role of the state in the creation of democratic alternatives to private voluntary food sustainability standards (VFSS). Our study illustrates the complex relationship between civil society (in this case, the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) VFSS), private VFSS and state actors, and the supportive role played by the state in establishing a framework for a food governance system that delivers food according to the values of all stakeholders. The PGS system is an alternative for family farmers that was initiated by civil society organizations (CSO) to reduce certification costs and bring more autonomy to family farmers through its democratic governance structure (in contrast to other private governance schemes). However, the institutionalization and development of such a governance system (i.e. PGS), was supported due to the action of the state. One of the key contributions of this study is the proposed typology that can help to identify and assess how such governance systems are evolving (by assessing how mature the system is) and at the same time, pointing out areas where the state actors could further act to develop a more democratic governance system. These include institutional support, market institutionalization, demand creation, technical support, and financial support. Our findings show that a polycentric system of food governance can result in greater participation, transparency, and accountability compared to a governance system driven by private VFSS. These characteristics can help drive greater equity in the food system which may be the key to promoting a healthier and more resilient governance system.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
16 September 2023Accepted
11 October 2023Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Participatory guarantee systems (PGS), food certification, organics, state
Subjects: CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-01 - business and management (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > Birmingham City Business School
Depositing User: Gemma Tonks
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2023 11:49
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2023 12:05

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