With neoliberal reforms and economic globalization, much of the regulation of food and agriculture is shifting from the state to the private sphere. Building on Busch’s work on science, the state, and the market, this paper examines the ways in which the governance of food and agriculture has become increasingly scientized with the use of third-party certification (TPC). TPC is a rule-based governance mechanism that consists of technical rules and procedures, which are based on scientific norms and practices. Using longitudinal research on an organic shrimp project in Indonesia, this paper examines the practices of TPC. Specifically, the focus is on the extent to which the practices of TPC correspond to its rules and thus, whether or not politics and interests are removed from governance. My findings indicate that the rules of TPC are not sufficient for the removal of politics and interests. Rather, they often push them backstage. In concluding, I contend that forms of rule-based scientific governance, such as TPC, separate the governance of food and agriculture from their production and consumption. The outcome is potentially a political, yet undemocratic, form of food and agricultural governance where science functions to mask politics.

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