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The Rise of the Food Risk Society and the Changing Nature of the Technological Treadmill

Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 2, 06120 Halle, Germany
Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ross M. Welch
Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 584;
Received: 1 April 2016 / Revised: 30 May 2016 / Accepted: 17 June 2016 / Published: 22 June 2016
PDF [563 KB, uploaded 22 June 2016]


Economic development of transition and developed countries is associated with increasingly unhealthy dietary habits among low-income population segments. Drawing on Ulrich Beck’s sociological theory of risk society, the present research note calls attention to the positive relation between national economic development and food risks that result in the rise of food-related diseases and healthcare costs. On this basis, we argue that the knowledge-intensive agribusiness may translate Cochrane’s technological treadmill into Beck’s risk treadmill that shifts a growing share of food-related healthcare costs from producers toward consumers, state, and the healthcare system. This argument motivates a novel research program dealing with the “food risk treadmill” that emerges in response to modern farming and agribusiness practices. Awareness of the food risk treadmill may help to streamline the development of agricultural science and to prevent it from being excessively dominated by the agricultural and food industry. View Full-Text
Keywords: agricultural treadmill; risk shifting; risk society; Ulrich Beck; knowledge agricultural treadmill; risk shifting; risk society; Ulrich Beck; knowledge

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Chatalova, L.; Müller, D.; Valentinov, V.; Balmann, A. The Rise of the Food Risk Society and the Changing Nature of the Technological Treadmill. Sustainability 2016, 8, 584.

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