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On Feeding the Masses: An Anatomy of Regulatory Failure in China
Published by Cambridge University Press Virtual Publishing
Pressures emanating from China's scale, regulatory politics, and need to feed itself has led to its decade's long food safety crisis.
China's food safety system is in crisis. Egregious scandals, as varied as the sale of liquor laced with Viagra and the distribution of fake eggs, reveal how regulatory practices have been stretched to their limit in the world's largest food production system. On Feeding the Masses focuses on the oft-cited but ultimately overlooked concept of scale to identify the root causes of China's regulatory failures in food safety. The 'politics of scale' framework highlights how regulators disagree on which level of government is best suited to regulate ('the scale of governance'), struggle to address multilevel tensions ('multidimensional scale integration'), and fail to understand how policies at one level of government can affect other levels of government in unexpected and costly ways ('scale externalities'). Drawing from over 200 interviews with food safety regulators and producers, the study provides one of the most comprehensive accounts of China's food safety crisis to date.
1. Food safety and China's scale problem; 2. Revisiting scale; 3. On feeding the masses; 4. The export sector: the heavy hand of direct control; 5. CSA markets: 'I don't sell vegetables, I sell trust'; 6. Failed state policies: scale and its discontents; 7. Co-regulatory initiatives: China's big, small farmer problem; 8. Scaling-down: moving from global to the local; 9. Scaling-up: from local experiments to national solutions?; 10. The scale politics of regulatory giants compared; 11. Parting thoughts on scale; Appendix; References; Bibliography.
Reviewer: Lei Ping
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