UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The introduction of safe and sustainable agriculture certification : a case study of cherry growers in the Southern Interior of British Columbia Ardiel, Jennifer


GlobalGAP (previously EurepGAP) is a voluntary business-to-business standard for food audit that has recently achieved the greatest acceptance worldwide (Campbell, Lawrence & Smith 2006) boasting implementation numbers of over 80,000 farms in 80 countries. Compliance with the standard is verified by means of the third party certification (TPC) audit, and is designed to (GlobalGAP 2008) assure European retailers that exporting producers have met their criteria for safe and sustainable agriculture (GlobalGAP 2007b). In 2004, cherry growers in the Southern Interior of British Columbia became the first GlobalGAP certified producers in Canada. This novelty afforded a unique opportunity to observe the introduction of the standard in an industrialized country with well-established regulations and where the capacity of producers to undertake the process was relatively high. A qualitative methodology was used in case studies of two communities to inductively study the implementation of ‘safe and sustainable agriculture’ certification and generate relevant research questions for deeper examination. Sensitizing concepts emerging from observations of the TPC audits (n = 20) evolved into two primary research objectives; 1) to understand the practical application and diffusion of a TPC standard and 2) to explore the efficacy of the TPC standard as a mechanism to promote sustainable agriculture within certain pre-existing contexts. Forty-four follow up interviews were conducted with growers that chose to certify (n = 24), those that did not (n = 14), and other key actors (n = 3). This thesis examines the research objectives over three chapters. The introduction provides the local and global context along with a review of GlobalGAP, agri-food governance and the role of private certification and retailer power. Chapter two presents the technological and sociological factors that influenced the stages of the diffusion of GlobalGAP TPC and compares these factors and outcomes to the technological and sociological components of sustainable agriculture. In the conclusion, policy strategies are offered to maximize the potential for this tool to promote sustainable agriculture along with suggestions for future research on the topic.

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