What's the Beef?

From Politics, Science, and the Environment

What's the Beef?

The Contested Governance of European Food Safety

Edited by Christopher Ansell and David Vogel





A series of food-related crises—most notably mad cow disease in Britain, farmer protests in France against American hormone-treated beef, and the European Union's banning of genetically modified food—has turned the regulation of food safety in Europe into a crucible for issues of institutional trust, legitimacy, and effectiveness. What's the Beef? examines European food safety regulation at the national, European, and international levels as a case of "contested governance"—a syndrome of policymaking and political dispute in which not only policy outcomes but aso the fundamental legitimacy of existing institutional arrangements are challenged.

The discussions of European food safety regulation in What's the Beef? open into consideration of broader issues, including the growing importance of multilevel regulation (and the possibility of disagreements among different levels of authority), the future of European integration, discontent over trade globalization, the politicization of risk assessment and regulatory science, the regulation of biotechnology, the shifting balance between public and private regulation, agricultural protectionism, and the "transatlantic divide." After addressing the historical, social, and economic context of European food safety regulation, the book examines national efforts at food safety reform in France, Britain, and Germany and such regional efforts as the creation of the European Food Authority. The book also looks at the international dimensions of European food safety regulation, discussing the conflicts between EU safety rules and World Trade Organization rulings that occur because EU rules are more risk averse ("precautionary") than those of its trading partners, including the United States.


$67.00 X ISBN: 9780262012256 400 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 2 illus.


$28.00 X ISBN: 9780262511926 400 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 2 illus.


Christopher Ansell

Christopher Ansell is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

David Vogel

David Vogel is Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds the Solomon Lee Chair in Business Ethics.


  • Food issues are at the heart of ongoing policy debates between Europe and the United States, ranging from whether we should have further agricultural subsidies to whether we should grow and eat genetically modified foods. Yet to date there has been little academic analysis explaining why these debates are often left unresolved, often due to a lack of trust, the role of regulatory scandals, or the importance of food culture. This timely book addresses this gap, and hence is essential for anyone interested in US-European policy analysis.

    Ragnar E. Lofstedt

    Professor and Director, King's Centre for Risk Management, Kings College London

  • This book assembles contributions by internationally renowned experts on food regulation, a topic of considerable importance. Authoritative and wide-ranging, it will be a key addition to the literature.

    Wyn Grant

    Politics & International Studies Department, University of Warwick

  • Thanks to a braod array of both highly informative and conceptually sophisticated articles, the editors manage to analyze all the major questions raised by the debate, from trade-related issues, to public/private sector relations, to the cultural dimensions of food regulation, to institutional questions. This will become the ABC of food regulation.

    Kalypso Nicolaidis

    University Lecturer in International Relations, University of Oxford