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Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 971; doi:10.3390/su8100971

Can Organic Farming Reduce Vulnerabilities and Enhance the Resilience of the European Food System? A Critical Assessment Using System Dynamics Structural Thinking Tools

1
Sustainable Food Economies Research Group, KU Leuven, Leuven 3001, Belgium
2
System Dynamics Group, University of Bergen, Bergen 5020, Norway
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sean Clark
Received: 30 June 2016 / Revised: 5 September 2016 / Accepted: 14 September 2016 / Published: 24 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture–Beyond Organic Farming)
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Abstract

In a world of growing complexity and uncertainty, food systems must be resilient, i.e., able to deliver sustainable and equitable food and nutrition security in the face of multiple shocks and stresses. The resilience of the European food system that relies mostly on conventional agriculture is a matter of genuine concern and a new approach is called for. Does then organic farming have the potential to reduce vulnerabilities and improve the resilience of the European food system to shocks and stresses? In this paper, we use system dynamics structural thinking tools to identify the vulnerabilities of the conventional food system that result from both its internal structure as well as its exposure to external disturbances. Further, we evaluate whether organic farming can reduce the vulnerabilities. We argue here that organic farming has some potential to bring resilience to the European food system, but it has to be carefully designed and implemented to overcome the contradictions between the dominant socio-economic organization of food production and the ability to enact all organic farming’s principles—health, ecology, fairness and care—on a broader scale. View Full-Text
Keywords: conventional agriculture; organic farming; system dynamics; food system; food and nutrition security; vulnerability; resilience; feedback loops; causal loop diagram conventional agriculture; organic farming; system dynamics; food system; food and nutrition security; vulnerability; resilience; feedback loops; causal loop diagram
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Brzezina, N.; Kopainsky, B.; Mathijs, E. Can Organic Farming Reduce Vulnerabilities and Enhance the Resilience of the European Food System? A Critical Assessment Using System Dynamics Structural Thinking Tools. Sustainability 2016, 8, 971.

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