The Regulator, the Target, and the Intermediary
A Comprehensive Look at the Regulation of Organic Food in the United States
In Regulation by Proxy: How the USDA Relies on Public, Nonprofit, and For-Profit Intermediaries to Oversee Organic Food in the U.S., Dr. David P. Carter, assistant professor of political science at the University of Utah, provides a comprehensive analysis of organic food regulation in the United States. The regulation of organic food is complex, and, as the book title suggests, organic regulation involves many actors with various roles. Although the federal government, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), plays a role in organic certification, “the regulatory arrangement is not as simple as a regulator . . . regulating an industry activity . . .” (p. 7). Instead, The National Organic Program (NOP), a regulatory entity housed under the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, relies on “an assortment of ‘regulatory intermediaries’” (p. 7) independent from the NOP to develop and enforce uniform national standards for organically produced agricultural products sold in the United States. As a result, the regulation of the USDA organic standard is “decentralized” such that organic food is regulated by proxy. . . .
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