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Revisiting Novel Food Regulation

European Union

Jul 18, 2022

The European Union’s novel food regulation, since its proposal by the European Executive in 1992, through the first version promulgated in 1997, to the latest version that came into effect in 2018, has been full of controversy and bitter negotiation. On the one hand, externally, the political delineation of the “novel” identity of food based on an arbitrarily drawn timeframe and the administrative sovereignty of the EU has triggered protests from trading partners outside the EU, while on the other, internally, it has been fiercely criticized for disregarding the well-being of the people. Both continually keep it in a dilemma. For a long time, scholars have conducted extensive discussions, which are mostly focused on the content of the articles and on the legitimacy and applicability of the Novel Food Regulation (NFR) in regulating the food traded into the EU under the international trade agreements, that is, the World Trade Organization and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. However, different from them, in this chapter, the author will revisit the NFR from the perspective of the sociology of the law, first to review the NFR from the perspective of the sociology of law by taking the disputes and conflicts throughout the negotiation of the NFR as a backdrop, then briefly describing the problems encountered since its proposal in 1997. Second, the author draws on the three aspects of food neophobia as the framework to explore the problems the NFR already had and is going to encounter. Finally, a simple conclusion is put forward, that the NFR is ultimately an administrative governing tool of the EU that will continue to inflict controversy, while the standards for the so-called protection of people’s interests are only guaranteed on the scientific level approved by the EU.

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