Transitions to sustainability require not only structural policy reforms, but a rethinking of how policy-relevant expertise is produced. In her paper "The Politics of Expertise: Assessing Alternatives to Glyphosate in France", Fiona Kinniburgh analyzes French pesticide regulation on alternatives to glyphosate –– the most widely used herbicide worldwide –– in agriculture to show how scientific and regulatory expertise shape political outcomes. The article focuses on the question: how do governments participate in the mobilization of expertise to inform policy choices on credible alternatives to dominant technologies for the governance of sustainability transitions?
It finds that the French government has come to define the political “solution space” to address the glyphosate problem by steering the production of expertise and limiting the framing of glyphosate alternatives to practices considered "economically and practically feasible" by selected experts. This excluded more systemic alternatives like organic farming and agroecology from policy debate and instrumentation.
This article contributes to a growing literature devoted to rethinking of the role of ideas and scientific knowledge in influencing political responsibility and allocations of power.
Fiona Kinniburgh is a PhD Candidate at the Chair of Environmental & Climate Policy under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Miranda Schreurs (TUM SOT) and TUM IAS Hans Fischer Senior Fellows Prof. Dr. Henrik Selin (Boston University) and Prof. Dr. Noelle Selin (MIT). The article is published open access thanks to the generous support of the HfP.