University Of Tasmania
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Harmonising the Governance of Farming Risks: agricultural biosecurity and biotechnology in Australia

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 12:05 authored by Dibden, J, Vaughan HigginsVaughan Higgins, Cocklin, C
International governmental bodies, such as the World Trade Organisation, are an increasingly prominent feature of global agri-food governance. They are instrumental not only in the dismantling of trade barriers but also in the promotion of a range of rules and standards. These rules are aimed broadly at harmonising national policies and practices so that differences are reduced and free trade is enhanced. Harmonisation is a crucial aspect of modern practices of governing, yet it has so far been given little critical attention in the agri-food and broader social science literature. Focusing on two contested policy fields with important consequences for Australian rural areas—quarantine regulations and the approval of genetically modified crops for commercial release—this paper examines how global forms of governing relating to risk assessment are constituted, rendered workable, debated and reconfigured at a national level as part of an ‘assemblage’ of trade liberalisation practices. We argue that the practice of harmonisation at a national scale is a complex process in which sovereignty is increasingly dispersed as national risk assessment processes are contested by corporations, trading partners and domestic political actors. The adoption of international rules may reinforce state sovereignty by legitimising desired policy changes, but it may also undermine domestic social, economic and environmental agendas.


Publication title

Australian Geographer








School of Social Sciences


Carfax Publishing

Place of publication

Rankine Rd, Basingstoke, England, Hants, Rg24 8Pr

Rights statement

Copyright 2011 Geographical Society of New South Wales Inc. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Australian Geographer on 1/6/2011, available online:

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Other environmental management not elsewhere classified