Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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    An Impossible Task? Australian Food Law and the Challenge of Novel Meat Analogues
    Johnson, H ; Parker, C (SAGE Publications, 2022-09-01)
    This paper asks what the regulatory assessment of the novel processed meat analogue products reveals about the nature of food regulation in Australia. We analyse Food Standards Australia and New Zealand’s (‘FSANZ’) assessment of the recent application by Californian technology company Impossible Foods Inc to sell its proprietary burger products which contain a genetically modified protein that is said to make their burger ‘bleed’. We show that FSANZ’s assessment process has little capacity to engage with broader and longer term, social, ecological and public health implications of novel foods and changing food markets. FSANZ’s regulatory pre-approval process focuses almost exclusively on the safety of individual ingredients rather than the impact of novel foods on the food supply as whole and leaves broader issues to the market and consumer choice with limited support from laws addressing misleading labelling and marketing of foods. Extending the capacity of Australia’s regulatory regime for food to deal with more than the safety of individual ingredients will become more urgent as other novel foods, such as cell-based meats, enter the marketplace.
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    Moving towards Ecological Regulation: The Role of Criminalisation
    Haines, F ; Parker, C ; Holley, C ; Shearing, C (Routledge - Taylor & Francis, 2017)
    Contemporary society faces multiple and interacting environmental challenges that require transformational change in the conduct of business. We take one of these challenges, the need to combat anthropogenic climate change, to interrogate what is required in transforming business regulation towards what we term ‘ecological regulation’. This transition requires us to grapple with how business regulation is currently framed and how change will effect such regulation. Regulation is largely premised both on the benefits of economic competition and for the control of particular harms to take place in an discrete case-by-case manner. Current moral and legal strategies used by activists in attempting to engender a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by business interact with current forms of regulation in distinct ways. The former involves activists staking a moral case for criminalisation of ecological damage through naming and shaming strategies. This may shift the moral boundaries of acceptable business behaviour. The latter is achieved by ‘bracing’ greenhouse gas reduction with existing business regulation that can bring some legal accountability to bear. We show how these strategies begin to reframe regulatory regimes as well as what ecological regulation might look like if full legal authority in enshrining a respect for ecological limits were added the contemporary framing of business regulation.
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    An Ecological Approach to Regulatory Studies?
    Parker, C ; Haines, F (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2018)
    Regulatory studies has been mainly occupied with addressing the social and economic crises of contemporary capitalism through instrumentally and responsively rational approaches. This article asks how regulatory scholarship can better respond to the ecological crisis now facing our world and our governance systems alongside social and economic crises. There are both possibilities and problems with instrumentally rational regulatory approaches that see human ecological impact as an externality or market failure and socio-legal approaches to regulatory studies that emphasize the need to attend to the social and political aspects of regulation using a responsively rational approach. A third big shift towards an ecologically rational approach to regulatory studies is needed to comprehend our embeddedness within ecological systems. An ecologically rational approach also calls for an understanding of how multiple, diverse ways of sustainable being can intersect with and challenge current regulatory regimes dominated by an instrumentally rational approach.
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    From responsive regulation to ecological compliance: meta-regulation and the existential challenge of corporate compliance
    Parker, C ; van Rooij, B ; SOKOL, DD (Cambridge University Press, 2021)
    This chapter revisits the significance of responsive regulation for theories of compliance. It shows how responsive regulation’s theory of compliance recognises both multiple motivations for compliance and plural actors who help negotiate and construct compliance. It argues that responsive regulation theory implies responsive compliance and that this can help build possibilities for deliberative democratic responsibility and accountability of both businesses and regulators. This is the idea that Parker previously labelled the meta-regulation of the “open corporation”. This chapter concludes that since business activity, and indeed human development, now face the existential challenge of socio ecological disruption and collapse in which profit oriented commercial activity is a significant driver, theories of compliance need to expand to concern themselves with how whole markets and industries can be made responsive to both social and ecological embeddedness. Regulatory compliance scholars need to pay attention to how networks of interacting business, government and civil society and social movement actors can influence business activity profoundly enough to shift the very nature of “business as usual”. The chapter therefore proposes the need for “ecological compliance” as a development of Ayres and Braithwaite’s analysis of compliance.
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    Investing for Nurtrition and Obesity Prevention: Current Practice in Australia
    Robinson, E ; Carey, R ; Parker, C ; Sacks, G ( 2021-08-19)
    Summary • Unhealthy diets, obesity and related non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide and represent a major public health challenge. • Addressing unhealthy diets and obesity will require comprehensive societal change, including comprehensive action from governments and food companies to improve the healthiness of food systems. • Investors can contribute to change through their investment decisions. They also stand to benefit from the positive societal and economic impacts associated with obesity prevention efforts. • In 2019/20, we reviewed a large sample of Australian institutional investors, asset management companies and superannuation funds, to investigate how these investors were incorporating nutrition and obesity-related considerations in their decision-making. • We found that 18 out of 35 investors included nutrition and obesity-related considerations in their investment decision-making, albeit in limited ways. • The most common way in which nutrition and obesity were considered was through so-called ‘ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) integration’ strategies. Most often, this was through considerations related to ‘health’ in the general sense, e.g., broad health and wellbeing considerations in selecting investment portfolios. Some investors explicitly considered the healthiness of a food company’s products in determining whether to invest or not. • Examples of ways in which nutrition and obesity-related considerations were being applied included investors actively engaging with food companies to encourage them to improve their nutrition-related policies and practices, and screening food companies based on risks associated with the healthiness of their product portfolios. • The findings of this research point to the need for: – Consistent nutrition-related sustainability reporting by food companies, guided by clear reporting frameworks; – The availability of comprehensive nutrition-related ESG data for investors, accompanied by agreed nutrition-related performance benchmarks; – More guidance on best practices for investors and the food industry. • Further research will help to identify how the investment community can best support efforts to address obesity and improve nutrition in Australia.
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    Investing for Sustainable Food Systems: Current Practice in Australia
    Carey, R ; Parker, C ; Robinson, E ; Sacks, G ( 2021-08-19)
    Summary • Food systems are a major driver of climate change, biodiversity loss, depletion of freshwater resources and pollution of waterways. • We examined the extent to which major institutional investors engaged in responsible investment in Australia consider sustainable food systems as part of their investment approach. • Nineteen out of 35 investors incorporated considerations related to sustainable food systems into investment decisions in some way. • We identified six strategies that investors used to incorporate sustainable food system considerations into their decision making. • The most common strategy used by investors was 'corporate engagement and shareholder action’ (using shareholder power to influence corporate behaviour). • The sustainable food system themes most commonly mentioned by these investors were ‘human rights’ (specifically labour rights in the food supply chain) and ‘animal welfare and anti-microbial resistance’. • Only one company, Australian Ethical, had a comprehensive policy on investment decisions related to sustainable food systems. • Examples of good practice included engaging with companies in relation to modern slavery concerns in the food supply chain, negatively screening intensive animal agriculture due to concerns about animal welfare and environmental sustainability, and investing in agricultural land to support a climate transition. • Future research will focus on engaging with investors to identify opportunities for progressing an investment agenda that promotes sustainable food systems in Australia.
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    Can Ethical Labelling Make Food Systems Healthy, Sustainable, and Just?
    Parker, C ( 2019)
    Consumers are often encouraged to “vote with their fork” and “say no” to unhealthy, unsustainable and unfair food. Food packaging is typically littered with claims about the nutrition, ethics and social goods associated with the product inside. Claims like “organic”, “GMO free”, “fair trade”, and “anti-biotic free” are common. But can consumer preference base labelling make a difference to the health, sustainability and ethics challenges facing the food system?
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    National plan to allow battery cages until 2036 favours cheap eggs over animal welfare
    Parker, C ; Bromberg, L ( 2021-07-05)
    Eggs laid by battery hens would be phased out within 15 years under a plan to improve poultry welfare in Australia. The proposal signals some relief for the 10 million or so egg-laying hens still kept in battery cages in Australia. But it doesn’t go far enough.
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