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Reflexivity and the regulation of GM food and feed in the EU

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This paper attempts to apply Archer’s theory on reflexivity to governance arrangements, and more specifically, to risk regulation. We argue that the realisation of citizens’ inherent reflexive ability provides an additional independent justification to the widespread literature that calls for deliberative modes of governance. Subsequently, this contribution singles out a specific policy domain in the European Union (EU), namely the one concerning the regulation of genetically modified (GM) food and feed. It stresses that the substantial scientific uncertainty that surrounds agricultural biotechnology in addition to the strong objections of European citizens towards the technology renders this sensitive regulatory area an ideal candidate for the implementation of governance arrangements that make use of deliberation. What is more, a distinction is made between politics based on ‘routine action’ (or shallow politics) and politics based on reflexivity (or reflexive politics). In making this distinction, the paper examines the EU GM food and feed regulatory regime to ascertain the extent to which it utilises and encourages citizens’ deliberative input.

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