This paper utilizes controversies over the role of a set of insecticides in mass honey bee die-offs in two different national contexts – France and the United States – in order to understand the science-state nexus in a comparative manner. On the one hand, the French government in 1999 and 2004 suspended the commercial use of the insecticidal products that beekeepers suspected of causing the honey bee declines. On the other hand, the US government has to date refused to heed beekeepers’ calls to limit the usage of the very same set of insecticides. We examine why the governments of France and the United States came to contrasting conclusions regarding broadly similar technoscientific issues. The divergent outcomes, we argue, are not simply the result of predetermined differences in the two states’ regulatory paradigms (with France being “precautionary,” and the United States adhering to a “sound science” approach), but are underpinned by divergent forms of beekeepers’ resistance. The paper further sheds light on non-state actors’ use of science and state to contest state (in)action by analyzing how historically influenced differences in state structures, the relational dynamics of beekeepers’ and farmers’ organizations, and the epistemic cultures of honey bee knowledge production, shaped different forms of resistance and influence in France and the United States.
We are grateful to Luc Gomel (Micropolis, Aveyron, France) for pointing us to important sources of information regarding the French controversy. We also thank David J. Hess and Scott Frickel for suggesting ways to improve our manuscript. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (Award # 0924346). Daniel Lee Kleinman’s work is also supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant (NRF-2010-330-B00169).
Suryanarayanan, S. and Lee Kleinman, D. (2014), "Beekeepers’ Collective Resistance and the Politics of Pesticide Regulation in France and the United States", Fields of Knowledge: Science, Politics and Publics in the Neoliberal Age (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 89-122. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0198-871920140000027011Download as .RIS
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