Sustainable Agriculture

Having enough food is fundamental to creating prosperity. This is one reason why more than 40% of the EU’s budget is still dedicated to improving agriculture, while less than 5% of the working population is actually employed in the agricultural sector. Since World Word II the Western World has taken a more industrialized approach to agriculture to achieve better yields. It includes large scale farming and extensive use of pesticides combined with genetically modified crops (that are made resistant to the pesticides). However, this approach comes with substantial drawbacks.

The use of toxic pesticides has serious negative effects on the environment, which are not always sufficiently scrutinized. Thus, a few companies can generate billions in revenue each year from selling these chemicals, while many people suffer from their use on farms. An international structure for agricultural regulation exists, to mitigate risks in this respect, but that has limitations. As one example, DoIP researchers in international law and philosophy have investigated how the negative effects of glyphosate, the most widely used pesticide, on water quality has been relatively ignored by international regulatory agencies, with detrimental effects to wildlife and human health. The negative effects of glyphosate on soil and water have been acknowledged before and they for instance feature prominently in the recently released movie “Kiss the Ground”, which emphasizes the importance of sustainable farming. The DoIP study exposed the weaknesses in the regulatory framework, e.g. the emphasis on the direct toxic effects of a specific chemical as revealed in laboratory test and limited attention for its more complicated indirect chain effects in the field. Results from the study have led to an international conference and a special issue in the European Journal of Risk Regulation. Insights from this study do not only relate to glyphosate, but can also be applied to the scrutiny of its successors, e.g. through updates of European Directives.

The Science and Politics of Glyphosate

Prof. Sheila Jasanoff on Glyphosate

Involved Researchers

This is an interdisciplinary research project, founded by researchers of the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity Initiative.

Prof. Alessandra Arcuri - Erasmus School of Law

  • Alessandra’s research studies how different international and EU legal regimes are implicated in the production of environmental degradation and social injustice. More concretely, she focuses on the field of international economic law and the relationship with human rights, environmental and public health law as well as on the global governance of risks and the emergence of global technocracy. By investigating and charting mechanisms by which exclusion and inclusion are produced through international legal institutions, her research contributes to better understand structural problems of the existing legal system and identify concrete ways to address them.

Dr. Yogi Hale Hendlin - Erasmus School of Philosophy

  • Yogi is specialized in environmental philosophy at the intersection of public health policy. His work in the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity Initiative focuses on the impact of the chemical and fossil fuel industries on health and the environment. He especially examines the unintended consequences and synergistic harms of pollution in its various forms vis-à-vis environmental justice, harms on nonhuman organisms, and ecological and intergenerational impact. The positive program stemming from this investigation is what he calls “disruptive regulation,” analysing best practices in ecology and health that meet human needs through shared agency, non-domination, and sustainability. Particular projects include carbon tax, glyphosate, e-waste and industrial epidemics (how industrial processes generate chronic disease).

Daniela Garcia-Caro Briceno - PhD Candidate Erasmus School of Law & Erasmus School of Philosophy

  • Daniela Garcia-Caro’s academic background includes Environmental Studies, Sustainable Development, and Agroecology. Her research interests lie with sustainable food system transformations and bridging the gaps between food system research, practice, and policy. The topic of her PhD is ‘Agribusiness and Sustainable Alternatives’, which aims to explore the stumbling blocks of transitions to an agroecological Europe by looking at the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy and their proposition for a new Legislative Framework for Sustainable Food Systems.