1.1 The contribution of political science experts to food safety
Political science is an academic discipline concerned with the empirical study of government and politics. It investigates, among other topics, the nature of processes, principles, and structure of government and of political institutions.
Though it has roots in the political philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, political science in the modern sense did not begin until the 19th century, when many of the social sciences were established.
Political scientists play an important role when it comes to defining, harmonising and analysing food safety regulations in the EU. In the light of the enlargement of the EU and the increased globalisation of trade, tackling food safety issues at an international level is becoming important.
The European Union has undergone a number of enlargements since the creation of the European Economic Community in 1957. More and more countries have joined the first six Member States. At present, after the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania on January 1st 2007, the EU composes 27 Member States.
Food safety crises damaged the EU food safety system. Furthermore, they caused Member States to tighten their barriers to trade inside the EU and, by doing so, to jeopardise the operation of the internal common market. Because of all this, the goal of the new EU food safety regulatory system is to find the correct balance between all Member States in relation to determining food safety standards and consumer protection, without affecting internal trade.
At present, most national food laws are harmonised in over 700 pages of EU legislation relating to food hygiene, quality and labelling . Although these guidelines are binding, Member States are still responsible for the enforcement of EU legislation . As a consequence, a wide variation currently exists across countries in how European Commission and EU food safety legislation is being implemented and enforced.
SAFE FOODS experts in the fields of political science, sociology and science and technology studies have analysed these current arrangements on food safety and have developed practical guidelines for improved risk governance.Source: G. Skogstad, (2001) “The WTO and Food Safety Regulatory Policy Innovation in the European Union”, Journal of Common market Studies, Vol. 39, No. 3, pp.485-505.