Agrifood scholars working within a political economy framework increasingly draw upon the concept of governance to analyze the regulation of global agricultural and food systems. An important limitation of this approach is that it fails to explain how governance strategies are legitimated. Drawing on three diverse cases that span three continents, our paper examines how standards makers appeal to technoscientific norms and values to establish both credibility for their standards and their authority in constructing them. These cases explore the development and implementation of a standard requiring complete elimination of a tart cherry insect pest in the United States; the process of establishing and maintaining red meat hygiene standards in the processing and retail sectors of South Africa; and the role of GLOBALGAP standards for pesticide residues in protecting worker health and safety in the Chilean fresh fruit export sector. These cases illustrate how appeals to technoscience mask controversy and vested interests and allow actors to exclude, conceal, and mystify possible alternatives; and they demonstrate the value that science and technology studies can bring to bear in understanding agrifood governance.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2010, the Southern Rural Sociological Association. This article first appeared in Journal of Rural Social Sciences: 25:3 (2010), 160-192.

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.