How do “international” epistemic communities shape regulatory contests between transnational firms and civil society organizations in the Global South? With the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO), member states committed to basing trade-restrictive national regulations on science-based “international” standards set by “international” standard-setting bodies. Yet we know little about how the WTO regime has shaped the operation of epistemic communities within standard-setting bodies and, in turn, how standard-setting bodies articulate with national policy-making processes in the Global South. Building on work in the new political sociology of science, I argue that neoliberal globalization and the establishment of the WTO have created incentives for Western epistemic communities to at once cast themselves as “international” under the WTO regime and orient their scientific agendas toward the priorities of transnational firms. Moreover, this transformation of epistemic communities has created opportunities for transnational firms facing contentious policy environments in the Global South to effectively outsource regulatory decision-making to “international” epistemic communities that can claim legal status under the WTO regime. Empirically, I focus on the case of one Western epistemic community—the Association of Analytical Communities International—and its claim to epistemic jurisdiction over pesticide residue standards for soft drinks in India.
Science, Technology, & Human Values – SAGE
Published: Jan 1, 2019
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