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Continuous discontinuation – The DDT Ban revisited

Abstract : Although innovation is considered as creative destruction, policies oriented to the withdrawal of socio-technical assemblages, have not been specifically studied so far. The goal of this paper is to contribute to fill this gap and to provide some elements of analysis of these policies that we call ‘outnovation policies’ in sustainability transitions. As template,we use the case of the withdrawal of DDT, one of the major post World War II innovations, as an emblematic case of outnovation. So far, the literature on DDT represents DDT withdrawal as a major public decision that resulted from environmental damages related to its massive and pervasive use. DDT ban is represented as a victory of the environmental movements in a period of constitution of an environmental policy stream. The literature perfectly captures the process of problematization of DDT, once considered as a magic solution to eradicate crop pests and fight insect-borne diseases like malaria and which becomes an iconic poisonous product.Based on the analysis of its ban in three countries (USA, France and UK), this paper focused on the missing parts of the DDT ban narratives through the lens of the dynamics of the regime of regulation. The story of the DDT could then be re-written on very different grounds. The paper advocates that the DDT ban wasn’t a major turning point for the pesticide regulation. Onthe contrary and by many ways it has enhanced the legitimacy of the pesticide regulatory’ s actors to control pesticide hazards. On this basis, we discuss general questions related to outnovation, and point out the dialectic relations between external contestation and re-stabilisation of the incumbent regime. The key lesson for outnovation policy is that external contestation does not necessarily lead to a radically new regime. Rather, it may lead to major adaptations of the incumbent regime that are aimedat restabilization through integration of the critique and care of some of the externalities. Hence, outnovation policies should not be considered only as policies of radical change aiming at disruptive transitions, but also as finely tuned paradoxical processes of destabilization / restabilization of a given sociotechnical regime, which might be profoundly transformed in its composition and sustainable properties, but nevertheless still there.
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  • HAL Id : hal-02507237, version 1
  • PRODINRA : 481050



Alix Levain, Pierre Benoit Joly, Marc Barbier, Vincent Cardon, François Dedieu, et al.. Continuous discontinuation – The DDT Ban revisited. 6. International Sustainability Transitions Conference "Sustainability transitions and wider transformative change, historical roots and future pathways", University of Sussex. Brighton, GBR., Aug 2015, Brighton, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-02507237⟩



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