Research of the Law and Governance Group

The LAW group conducts research on law and regulation in the life sciences domains of Wageningen University (food, health and the environment). While our core research and teaching area is food law, we also work on general issues pertaining to EU law, international law, transnational law, intellectual property law and human rights law, and are keen to explore interdisciplinary connections in those areas.

The group focuses on the law and regulation pertaining to private and public actors of the global economy, such as companies, consumers, states, international organizations, and civil society organizations, in the supra-, inter- and transnational arenas. While our work is grounded in classical legal analysis, we strongly engage into interdisciplinary and transnational research with social and natural science.

Transnational Regulation

In the last few decades, the world has globalized and localised at the same time, which has transformed the sovereignty and authority of the nation state. Transnational issues are governed through global networks of state and non-state actors in partly legal and partly non-legally binding arrangements. These various levels of regulation are connected through the regulation of informational and material flows, from data to goods, services and people related to the greening of international trade. The LAW group looks at how public and private legal mechanisms can generate positive outcomes in terms of sustainability at the domestic, EU and international levels. Under this heading, we conduct research on the legal regulation of environmentally and socially sustainable supply chains (particularly with regard to food and agriculture), public procurement, trade and investment.

Current research in this theme

  • GMO Regulation in EU and International Trade (Kai Purnhagen and Justus Wesseler)
  • The development of the bioeconomy and regulatory challenges (Hanna Schebesta, Kai Purnhagen, and Justus Wesseler)
  • Trust, Resilience and Collective Action (TReCA) in Bio-based Production Systems (Kai Purnhagen)
  • Behind the claims: the private politics of incentive-based fisheries improvement (Hanna Schebesta and Simon Bush)
  • The Nagoya Protocol (NP) on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity: from obstacle to opportunity? (Hanna Schebesta and Justus Wesseler)
  • Legal Responses to Challenges from Private Regulation (Kai Purnhagen, Hanna Schebesta and Nadia Bernaz)
  • Extraterritorial Reach of EU law (Kai Purnhagen)
  • Extraterritorial reach of domestic legislation and courts in the area of business and human rights (Nadia Bernaz)
  • International regulation of the human rights impacts of business operations (Nadia Bernaz)
  • Nature conservation areas by contract governance in West Papua – empirical and legal views (Taufik Haryanto, Koen Arts and Kai Purnhagen)
  • Domestic and regional regulation of Halal and WTO compliance (Eva Johan, Hanna Schebesta and Kai Purnhagen).

Business and Consumer Regulation

How to regulate business and consumers in a way to achieve the stipulated outcome? Law is part of a complex social web. Hence the effectiveness of the steering capacity of law depends on how well it communicates with its context and the institutions chosen to steer behaviour. With increasing technological advancement and the rise of the platform economy the interplay between context and decision becomes increasingly important in law. Assessing the well-functioning of the regulatory character by looking into this interplay in offline and online markets and making policy recommendations drawing from a variety of theoretical frameworks such as classical legal analysis, choice architecture, social practices, economic theories (eg. ex-ante and ex-post liability) is the core of our research in this area.

Current research in this theme

  • ZANEXUS – Sustainable Agricultural Policy in the EU (Kai Purnhagen)
  • How can Food Information Tools (FITs) be leveraged to make the production and consumption of food more responsible? (Hanna Schebesta)
  • The behavioural turn in Consumer law (Kai Purnhagen, Hanna Schebesta)
  • Primary producers in agri-food chains: the influence of EU competition law and Common Market Organization regulation on cooperation, in particular sustainability initiatives (Hanna Schebesta in cooperation with WEcR), funded by the Dutch Ministry for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality
  • Insurance in the Digital Age (Kai Purnhagen)
  • Behavioural Study on Advertising and Marketing Practices in Online Social Media (Hanna Schebesta), funded by the European Commission
  • Assessment of Voluntary Claims on Fishery and Aquaculture Products: market and behavioural study (Hanna Schebesta), funded by the European Commission
  • Law for responsibility, and responsibility through law: risk regulation through liability allocation (Hanna Schebesta)

New legal research methods

In line with the interdisciplinary culture of Wageningen University and Research, a scientific ambition of the LAW group is to contribute to a methodological shift in the legal discipline towards the incorporation of social and natural science research methods. Here, our focus is on the use of science to inform the law, empirical legal research, and systematic content analysis in law. Moreover, over the years, the LAW group has established itself as a centre of expertise for behavioural approaches to law.

In our research, we also use theoretical frameworks from other disciplines, such as economics and management.

Current research in this theme

  • Behavioural approaches to law (Kai Purnhagen, Hanna Schebesta)
  • Legal methodological innovation using qualitative assessment software (Hanna Schebesta)
  • Science-based regulation, adjudication and legislation (Kai Purnhagen)
  • Strengthening the Food Safety Control Scheme in Indonesia through WTO law and food safety science (Dasep Wahidin and Kai Purnhagen)
  • The managerialization of law: systematic content analysis of food companies’ modern slavery statements (Nadia Bernaz)