Professor Christine Parker (Australia)

Christine Parker is Professor in the Law Faculty at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She is well known for her research, teaching and policy-oriented commentary on issues in the intersection between ethics and regulation, including animal welfare labelling of food. Christine teaches the compulsory ethics and professional conduct subject for law students. Her book on this topic (Inside Lawyers’ Ethics with Adrian Evans) is in its second edition. She has also conducted much empirical and policy oriented research on businesses’ responses to regulatory enforcement including environmental, equal opportunity, consumer protection and fair competition laws, and the conditions under which businesses can best be encouraged or forced to manage themselves in an openly accountable, engaged and ethical way. Her book on this topic, The Open Corporation, was published in 2002, and follow up collection setting out the state of the research on why and how businesses do and do not comply with legal, regulatory and social responsibilities was published in (Explaining Compliances, edited with Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen). 

In recent years Professor Parker has turned her attention to the contention around the dominant industrial food system and especially animal welfare concerns with the production of animal foods. She has a large Australian Research Council grant to examine the potential of the food label as a space for democratic engagement using animal welfare labelling as her case study. She is critically examining what animal foods are available for sale, where, how they are labelled and what regulatory standards lie behind any animal welfare cams made.  The project recognises that the food label has become an important site of contestation and controversy with respect to a range of health, safety, environmental and ethical issues across the food system. This project sheds light on the dynamics of how a network of food producers, retailers, private certification organisations, and regulatory agencies are responding to changing demands for higher animal welfare foods and aims to develop new strategies for a more effective, legitimate and stakeholder-inclusive approach to regulating food labels. It is a wonderful excuse to visit many interesting food retail outlets and talk to producers and activists about the issues in animal welfare and how we relate to animals through our food choices.