Food crime and green criminology

Authored by: Wesley Tourangeau , Amy J. Fitzgerald

Routledge International Handbook of Green Criminology

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138633803
eBook ISBN: 9781315207094
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter seeks to highlight the ways in which green criminology can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of food crime and the harms it can entail. The authors begin with a survey of food crime typologies, focussing on two broad categories: (1) food crimes defined as such by legal standards (including food adulteration, counterfeiting and poisoning); and (2) food crimes that represent violations of moral standards, but which may not be proscribed by law. This second category challenges the limits of legally defined food crimes, and includes important systemic issues and individual actions that are harmful but not legally prohibited. The authors utilise recent cases to illustrate both the categorical distinctions and the applied real consequences of each, offering a brief case study of recent updates to Canada’s ‘livestock’ transportation regulations in order to demonstrate the complexity and difficulty of defining what constitutes a ‘food crime’ and the limitations of restricting the subject of ‘food crime’ to legalistic definitions. As the chapter reveals, an examination of changes to Canada’s ‘livestock’ transportation regulations and the related consultative process helps to illuminate the sites where legal boundaries are drawn, as well as to underscore how these boundaries can be rather arbitrary and yet extremely impactful. This act of drawing boundaries is an inherently complex task, the authors note, involving the ethical and normative dimensions of law formation, in addition to the injection of public and private interests. Overall, the case study provides an examination of how these dimensions and interests are weighted in matters of animal welfare and economic profitability.

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