This paper deals with international standard-setting. Using the HACCP food safety standard as the basis of discussion, this paper considers the influence of scientific experts on the regulatory process. What is usually referred to as the diffusion or dissemination of soft or voluntary standards is here explained in terms of transferability of a regulatory concept. It is the ability of scientific experts to transform practices into a universal concept and, conversely, to develop technologies for users which translate the concept into practice, that explains why this reference has travelled so well across countries, industry sectors and historical periods. Scientific experts played a translating role between standard-setters and groups of practical users. This highlights the counter-intuitive distribution of power in standard-setting: while experts dominate the development of generic rules, official rule-makers (such as governments) assert their authority by developing alternative technologies for the appropriation of the standard by users and, sometimes, allow the latter to deviate from experts' universal concepts where these are shown to be problematic
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