Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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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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    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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    Consumer Power to Change the Food System? A Critical Reading of Food Labels as Governance Spaces: The Case of Agai Berry Superfoods
    Parker, C ; Johnson, H ; Curll, J (University of Arkansas, School of Law, 2019)
    This article argues that the marketing claims on food labels are a governance space worthy of critical examination. We use a case study of superfood agai berry products to illustrate how marketing claims on food labels encapsulate dominant neoliberal constructions of global food systems. These marketing claims implicitly promise that by making careful choices consumers can resist and redress the ravages of unbridled global capitalism.
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    SUSTAINABLE HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES: THE PROMISE OF 'HOLISTIC' DIETARY GUIDELINES AS A NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL POLICY SPRINGBOARD
    Parker, C ; Johnson, H (QUEENSLAND UNIV TECHNOLOGY, 2018-01-01)
    A healthy diet is generally a sustainable diet. This point is illustrated in the large body of work exploring the interconnections between public health nutrition and environmental issues associated with food choices. Unhealthy diets and their contribution to diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are receiving growing attention from international and national policy-makers. Dietary guidelines that inform consumers about food choices and that shape policy actions to enable choices in line with the guidelines are foundational to both national and international responses to diet-related NCDs. The purpose of this paper is to argue for holistic dietary guidelines as part of national and international policy responses to diet-related NCDs. Holistic dietary guidelines simultaneously address health and environmental sustainability to address common causes and harness synergistic solutions. They are based on evidence, and free of conflicts of interest. Moreover, they act as a policy springboard for effective regulatory action to change the food environment and not just as an education tool. Holistic dietary guidelines raise potential concerns under international trade and investment law, for example, to the extent that such guidelines promote local products as a means of supporting both nutritional and environmental health. These issues will be examined in more depth in a second paper in this special issue that follows on from this one.
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    The Food Label as Governance Space: Free-Range Eggs and the Fallacy of Consumer Choice
    Parker, C (Boom Juridische Uitgevers, 2014)
    In a neoliberal age governments, NGOs, food producers and retailers all state that the food system can be governed via consumer choice aka voting with your fork. This makes the retail food label an important space for contests between different actors who each seek to govern the food system according to their own interests and priorities. The paper argues that this makes it crucial to ‘backwards map’ the regulatory governance networks behind the governance claims staked on food labels. The paper uses the example of the contested meaning of ‘free-range’ claims on animal products in Australia to propose and illustrate a methodology for this backwards mapping.
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    The Happy Hen on Your Supermarket Shelf: What Choice Does Industrial Strength Free-Range Represent for Consumers?
    Parker, C ; Brunswick, C ; Kotey, J (Springer Verlag, 2013)
    This paper investigates what "free-range" eggs are available for sale in supermarkets in Australia, what "free-range" means on product labelling, and what alternative "free-range" offers to cage production. The paper concludes that most of the "free-range" eggs currently available in supermarkets do not address animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and public health concerns but, rather, seek to drive down consumer expectations of what these issues mean by balancing them against commercial interests. This suits both supermarkets and egg producers because it does not challenge dominant industrial-scale egg production and the profits associated with it. A serious approach to free-range would confront these arrangements, and this means it may be impossible to truthfully label many of the "free-range" eggs currently available in the dominant supermarkets as free-range.
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    Voting with Your Fork?: Industrial Free-Range Eggs and the Regulatory Construction of Consumer Choice
    Parker, C (SAGE Publications, 2013)
    Labeling and information disclosure to support consumer choice are often proposed as attractive policy alternatives to onerous mandatory business regulation. This article argues that choices available to consumers are constructed and constrained by actors in the chains of production, distribution, and exchange who bring products to retail. It traces how “free-range” eggs come to market in Australia, finding that the “industrial free-range” label dominating the market is not substantially different from caged-egg production in the way that it addresses animal welfare, public health, and agro-ecological values. I show how the product choices available to consumers have been constructed not just by the regulation (or nonregulation) of marketing and labeling, but also by the regulatory paths taken and not taken all along the food chain.
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    Out of the Cage and into the Barn: Supermarket Power Food System Governance and the Regulation of Free Range Eggs
    Parker, C ; Scrinis, G (Griffith University Law School, 2014)
    The highly concentrated nature of food retailing in Australia gives supermarkets considerable control over the interface between consumers and producers. Legal and regulatory commentary debates what can and should be done about the market dimensions of supermarket power. This article shows that Australian supermarkets are amassing not only economic power but also political power in the food system. The article makes this argument by reference to two major supermarkets’ initiatives in the regulatory space around food labelling, specifically the contested meaning of free range eggs. The article examines how the supermarkets are using their market power to create private standards for suppliers of own brand products that set the meaning of ‘free range’ for consumers too. This entrenches supermarkets’ market share as well as their political power as food authorities.