Title

Systemic failure in the provision of safe food

Campus Units

Economics, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development

Document Type

Article

Publication Version

Submitted Manuscript

Publication Date

2-2003

Journal or Book Title

Food Policy

Volume

28

Issue

1

First Page or Article ID Number

77

Last Page

96

DOI

10.1016/S0306-9192(03)00003-4

Abstract

Many deficiencies in the capacity of a food system to deliver safe products are systemic in nature. We suggest a taxonomy of four general ways in which a systemic failure might occur. One relates to the connectedness, or topology, of the system. Another arises from mistrust on the part of downstream parties concerning signals on product attributes, production processes, and the performance of regulatory mechanisms. A third arises when asymmetric information leads to low incentives for preserving food quality. Finally, inflexibilities in adapting to different states of nature may leave the system vulnerable to failures. Innovations in information technology and institutional design may ameliorate many problems, while appropriate trade, industrial organization, science, and public infrastructure policies may also fortify the system.

Comments

This is a working paper of an article from Food Policy 28 (2003): 77, doi: 10.1016/S0306-9192(03)00003-4.