Rethinking Regulation: seeds and drugs in China and Argentina

Close up picture of cotton crop.

Project dates: 2006-2011

This project compared the regulation of two technologies – transgenic cotton seeds and antibiotics – with the way those technologies are experienced amongst poorer communities in rural Argentina and rural China.

Through case studies in both countries, we have explored the implementation challenges facing regulators. We investigated the kinds of inclusive regulatory designs that can incorporate issues relevant to poorer communities. The project aimed to understand how to improve regulatory capacity, and identify fruitful ways of rethinking regulation.

This research addressed the gap between current assumptions about regulation – based often on the norms of OECD countries – and the more complex realities in diverse, dynamic contexts.

Global vs local

Today, in a context of economic globalisation, new pharmaceutical and agricultural technologies are often supplied through trans-national as well as national research and development chains. Yet global, harmonised regulations and regimes often do not map neatly onto diverse localities in rapidly changing economies, giving rise to many unintended consequences.


Book: Regulating Technology

Regulating Technology: International Harmonization and Local Realities

Regulating Technology coverPatrick van Zwanenberg, Adrian Ely and Adrian Smith (Earthscan 2011)
Part of the STEPS Centre’s Pathways to Sustainability series

Examining the regulation of technologies, this book explores how the drive to harmonize regulatory policies across the world is at odds with the increasingly diverse local settings in which they are implemented. The authors use a ‘framings’ approach that starts with the concerns and experiences of technology users and works ‘upwards’ in order to examine how best to improve regulation.

The book centres around two in-depth case study topics: regulation of transgenic cotton seed and regulation of antibiotics, compared across situations in China and Argentina.


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