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Special Issue "Sustainable Agri-Food Systems: Environment, Economy, Society and Policy"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Social Ecology and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (26 September 2022) | Viewed by 21912

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Hamid El Bilali
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM-Bari), 70010 Valenzano, Italy
Interests: sustainability; sustainable agriculture; sustainable food systems; sustainable diets; food losses and waste; food security; food policy.
Prof. Dr. Carola Strassner
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Food, Nutrition & Facilities, FH Münster—University of Applied Sciences, 48149 Münster, Germany
Interests: systems thinking applied to sustainable food systems; organic food systems; out of home food systems
Dr. Tarek Ben Hassen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of International Affairs, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha 2713, Qatar
Interests: geography of innovation; agricultural system of innovation; sustainability and innovation; food security

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Food systems encompass all the elements (environment, people, inputs, infrastructures, institutions, etc.) and activities that relate to the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food as well as the outputs of these activities. A food system is sustainable when its socioeconomic and environmental outcomes do not compromise the economic, social, and environmental bases for future generations. Over the last few decades, food systems have been central in the debate on sustainable development, such as in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indeed, food systems are under an unprecedented confluence of pressures and lie at the center of a global nexus of environmental, social, and economic problems, as humanity faces the challenge of achieving sustainable food security in the face of ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, human population growth, and climate change. On the one hand, food systems are among the main contributors to sustainability challenges, such as land degradation, climate change, biodiversity loss, etc. On the other hand, they are dramatically affected by these challenges facing humanity. Moreover, the dysfunction of modern food systems is a major cause of several societal issues such as food insecurity and malnutrition, rural poverty and livelihood vulnerability, and social inequality. These challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that has highlighted the unsustainability and vulnerability of modern food systems and caused an impending global food emergency (e.g., increase in food losses and waste, food export restrictions, panic buying and stock-outs, surge in food insecurity, deterioration of nutritional and health status). This has all culminated in different calls for the transformation of food systems and their transition toward sustainability at different levels (global, regional, national, local). While some initiatives focus on single stages of the food chain (e.g., sustainable agriculture, sustainable diets), others are more systemic and holistic (e.g., short food supply chains, alternative food networks, reduction of food losses and waste). The diversity of the proposed transition strategies and approaches stems, among others, from differences in the definition, conceptualization, and assessment of sustainability in agri-food systems. What is clear is that transition toward sustainable food systems also implies transforming food policy and governance.

This Special Issue addresses but is not limited to the following topics:

  • Conceptualization, design, and operationalization of sustainable food systems at different levels (global, regional, national, city-region, local);
  • Methods, approaches, and models for the assessment of agri-food sustainability in food systems (production/agriculture, processing, distribution, consumption, waste management);
  • Sustainability transitions in agri-food systems (theories, frameworks, models, good practices, and promising initiatives);
  • New generation of food policies (integrated, multisectoral) and governance models (inclusive, multi-stakeholder, reflexive) for sustainable food systems;
  • Food systems in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the functioning, performance and resilience of agri-food systems.

Dr. Hamid El Bilali
Prof. Dr. Carola Strassner
Dr. Tarek Ben Hassen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • sustainability transitions
  • sustainable consumption and production
  • sustainable food systems
  • sustainable agriculture
  • sustainable diets
  • sustainable processing
  • food waste
  • sustainability assessment
  • food policy
  • food governance
  • food security
  • food system resilience
  • climate change
  • COVID-19
  • SDGs

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Research

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Article
SDG Performance in Local Organic Food Systems and the Role of Sustainable Public Procurement
Sustainability 2022, 14(18), 11510; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141811510 - 14 Sep 2022
Viewed by 361
Abstract
Alternative food systems have occupied a steady niche in the food systems transformation discourse as one of the transformative pathways capable of addressing many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Being one of the alternative approaches, organic food systems are often [...] Read more.
Alternative food systems have occupied a steady niche in the food systems transformation discourse as one of the transformative pathways capable of addressing many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Being one of the alternative approaches, organic food systems are often in the spotlight of transformation discussion. While their outcomes and, to a lesser extent, potential to address the SDGs have been documented, the attempts to provide empirical evidence for the latter contribution are largely lacking. The study aimed to close this gap by assessing the performance of SDGs in local organic food systems with the territorial approach. For this purpose, a mixed methods research design and actor-oriented approach have been used. The research employed a multiple-case study design to examine three European territorial organic food systems to uncover their contribution to SDGs and thereby their role in food systems transformation towards enhanced sustainability. Analysis at the target level revealed the central role of SDG 12, responsible consumption and production, addressed by the highest number of targets manifested through corresponding outcomes of all three analyzed case studies. The analyzed systems uncovered a leverage potential of sustainable public procurement to unfold other SDG targets through synergetic interactions of the respective outcomes. Full article
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Article
Socioeconomic Drivers of Fish Consumption in Qatar
Sustainability 2022, 14(17), 10921; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141710921 - 01 Sep 2022
Viewed by 328
Abstract
The demand and supply gap in local fish production provides opportunities for investment in fish production and processing that are non-artisanal. Accordingly, this paper uses the Qatar Semi-Annual Survey, a nationally representative repeated cross-sectional dataset, to analyze consumers’ willingness to consume processed fish [...] Read more.
The demand and supply gap in local fish production provides opportunities for investment in fish production and processing that are non-artisanal. Accordingly, this paper uses the Qatar Semi-Annual Survey, a nationally representative repeated cross-sectional dataset, to analyze consumers’ willingness to consume processed fish and the consumption intensity. Given the ordinal nature of the main outcome variable, namely processed fish consumption intensity, we use the ordered probit model with sample selection. The first part of our analytical strategy helps us to examine determinants of processed fish consumption, while the second part establishes factors associated with processed fish consumption intensity. The findings suggest that the majority of the respondents have a low interest in consuming processed fish. Nonetheless, we find that demographic and socioeconomic factors influence the intensity of consuming processed fish in Qatar. Specifically, consuming processed fish sometimes or very often is positively associated with age, living in a household with no children, and labor force participation. In comparison, Qatari households, tertiary education, and living in a middle-income household are factors that are likely to reduce consuming processed fish sometimes or very often. Our findings have important implications for investment in processed fish in Qatar. Specifically, the results help in targeting different consumer segments given a better understanding of factors associated with processed fish and fishery product consumption and the intensity of consumption among consumers in Qatar. The insights drawn from this study are a fundamental precondition for advancing the processed fish and fishery product industry in Qatar, an industry with the potential to generate by-products with benefits, such as energy and animal feed, prolonging fish and fishery product shelf life and convenience for consumers. Moreover, other countries in the region are likely to benefit from the insights drawn from this study. Full article
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Article
Assessing Africa’s Agricultural TFP for Food Security and Effects on Human Development: Evidence from 35 Countries
Sustainability 2022, 14(11), 6411; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116411 - 24 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 698
Abstract
Population growth, food shortages, and low levels of human development have been longstanding issues confronting many African countries. Agricultural productivity remains a critical goal for mitigating these challenges and ensuring overall economic development. Total factor productivity (TFP) is a crucial metric for determining [...] Read more.
Population growth, food shortages, and low levels of human development have been longstanding issues confronting many African countries. Agricultural productivity remains a critical goal for mitigating these challenges and ensuring overall economic development. Total factor productivity (TFP) is a crucial metric for determining a sector’s overall growth. However, due to a lack of comprehensive assessments of the trends and determinants of TFP growth in African agriculture, there are disagreements. Within the context of inclusive human development, the impact of agricultural productivity is frequently misrepresented in the current literature. This paper estimated TFP growth and assessed its impact on human development in Africa. Due to technological improvement, TFP increased moderately at a 5.4% growth rate across African countries over the period (2001–2019). Empirical evidence indicates that TFP growth enhances human development in the long run, but the effect varies according to levels of human development (HDI) and the nature of growth over time. For instance, higher levels of human development tend to mitigate the impact of TFP. Further analysis revealed that technical efficiency improvement is critical for enhancing food safety and human development. Policy recommendations for improving TFP for food security and human development in Africa are provided. Further investigation into agricultural TFP’s impact beyond the poverty measure in Africa is encouraged. Full article
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Article
Examining the Socio-Economic and Natural Resource Risks of Food Estate Development on Peatlands: A Strategy for Economic Recovery and Natural Resource Sustainability
Sustainability 2022, 14(7), 3961; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14073961 - 27 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 799
Abstract
Given the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food and agriculture sectors, rapid measures are needed to reduce the risk of food crises, especially among the poor and the most vulnerable communities. The government of Indonesia planned to establish the Food [...] Read more.
Given the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food and agriculture sectors, rapid measures are needed to reduce the risk of food crises, especially among the poor and the most vulnerable communities. The government of Indonesia planned to establish the Food Estate National Program to ensure food security. Most of the area will be on peatlands, and as such, the program still faces pros and cons as it might open up opportunities for deforestation, threats to biodiversity, and loss of community livelihoods. We conducted the present research in Central Kalimantan to formulate a food estate (FE) development strategy by taking into account the potential benefits and risks to ensure increases in the local community’s welfare and the sustainability of biodiversity. Data were collected through field surveys, interviews, focus group discussion (FGD), and literature studies. The results show that the operation of a food estate on degraded peatlands has a moderate to high level of risk of negative impacts. Community activities and changes in farming methods through using more inputs and mechanical equipment are the most risky activities in FE development. The low substitutability of peatlands requires mitigation efforts as part of risk management. The operation of food systems on peatlands must be based on a strong sustainability perspective with a main principle of complementary resources. The main strategy is to protect natural resources and replace cultivated exotic plants with potential native peat plants with minimal risk. In addition, the policy and capacity building of farmers towards a business-oriented direction will maximize socioeconomic benefits. Utilization of biodiversity and low-impact cultivation techniques can ensure sustainability. Full article
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Article
Sustainable Diet Optimization Targeting Dietary Water Footprint Reduction—A Country-Specific Study
Sustainability 2022, 14(4), 2309; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14042309 - 17 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 826
Abstract
Food production creates 70% of the total anthropogenic water footprint, and it is the main cause of water pollution. Thus, more sustainable diets could contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. A linear programming-based stepwise optimization was designed to create dietary [...] Read more.
Food production creates 70% of the total anthropogenic water footprint, and it is the main cause of water pollution. Thus, more sustainable diets could contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. A linear programming-based stepwise optimization was designed to create dietary water footprint-reduced, culturally acceptable, and healthier diets in the case of Hungary based on a representative dietary survey. Optimization resulted in a considerable total dietary water footprint reduction (women: 18%; men: 28%) with a moderate dietary shift (~32%). Milk and dairies (observed: ~31.5%, optimized: ~20.5%) and meats and meat products (observed: ~28.0%, optimized: 28.9%) contributed the most to the dietary water footprint. In the water footprint–healthiness synergy, the vegetables, eggs, poultries, and fermented dairies were the most beneficial, increasing in amount, while fatty dairies, foods high in added sugar, and meat products were the most non-beneficial food sub-groups, decreasing in amount in the optimized diets. The problematic nutrients to fulfill in the optimized diets were energy, dietary fibers, sodium, vitamin D, zinc, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and potassium at the maximum water footprint reduction. The study provides supporting evidence about the dietary water footprint–healthiness synergy for the further improvement of the national food-based dietary guideline. Full article
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Article
Identification of Sustainable Development Priorities for Agriculture through Sustainable Livelihood Security Indicators for Karnataka, India
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1831; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031831 - 05 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 914
Abstract
To cope with worsening climate change and widening intergenerational equity issues, more impetus should be given to sustainable development. India, predominantly an agrarian economy, faces most pressing issues of sustainable development with a complex territorial hegemony of the population and their dynamic food [...] Read more.
To cope with worsening climate change and widening intergenerational equity issues, more impetus should be given to sustainable development. India, predominantly an agrarian economy, faces most pressing issues of sustainable development with a complex territorial hegemony of the population and their dynamic food demands. Regional production systems play a vital role in strengthening national sustainable development priorities in India. Hence, to realize the dimensions of sustainable development in a more meaningful way, sustainability needs to be prioritized in an agrarian economy. Sustainability is a complex phenomenon encompassing economic, ecological and equity dimensions. A modest attempt in this regard has been made to estimate normative sustainable indicators for Karnataka state considering 20 crucial indicators or variables governing different dimensions. Using principal component analysis and linear scoring techniques, a minimum dataset including forest cover, livestock and human population density, and cropping intensity governing ecological issues, groundwater availability and milk availability governing social equity issues, and net cropped area, land productivity, labor productivity, food grain productivity and fertilizer use governing economic efficiency was identified, constituting crucial indicators for the development of the sustainable livelihood security index. The computed index was used to classify districts in Karnataka into various sustainable categories. Among 27 districts, 13 districts were grouped as less sustainable, 4 as highly sustainable and 10 as moderately sustainable categories. This classification and knowledge provide clues for policy makers to transform less sustainable districts into moderately/highly sustainable ones by formulating suitable policies related to crucial factors. Formulated policies on crucial factors have a domino effect/causation effect and bring about desirable changes in all other indicator variables, leading to the sustainable development of the target districts in Karnataka. This approach can be used at different scales in other states in India and in other developing countries. Full article
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Article
What Skills Do Agricultural Professionals Need in the Transition towards a Sustainable Agriculture? A Qualitative Literature Review
Sustainability 2021, 13(24), 13556; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132413556 - 08 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1148
Abstract
Agriculture is facing mounting challenges across the globe and must move towards more sustainable practices to combat climate change and meet changed production requirements. Education has been acknowledged as highly important in a sustainable transition, but there is no clear agreement about what [...] Read more.
Agriculture is facing mounting challenges across the globe and must move towards more sustainable practices to combat climate change and meet changed production requirements. Education has been acknowledged as highly important in a sustainable transition, but there is no clear agreement about what skills are needed for professionals in the agricultural system. The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyse skills needed for professionals in the agricultural system to engage in the transition towards sustainable agriculture and elaborate on the implications of this for a transition towards sustainable agriculture. The review is based on a qualitative semi-systematic literature review of 20 peer-reviewed articles concerned with sustainability, skills, and agriculture. Five categories of skills were identified and analysed, including systems perspective, lifelong learning, knowledge integration, building and maintaining networks and learning communities, and technical and subject-specific knowledge and technology. As the identified categories of skills have emerged from different contextual settings and a diverse group of actors, these five categories encourage a broad and inclusive understanding of skills that can be translated into different contextual settings, scales, and professions within the agricultural system. The article concludes that professionals engaged in the transition towards sustainable agriculture need skills that encourage a perspective that moves beyond generic discipline-based skills and instead builds on heterogeneity, inclusion, and use of different actors’ knowledge, practices, and experiences, and the ability to respond and be proactive in a constantly changing world. Full article
Article
Agrobiodiversity-Oriented Food Systems between Public Policies and Private Action: A Socio-Ecological Model for Sustainable Territorial Development
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 12192; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112192 - 04 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1199
Abstract
The international and European literature and institutional contexts are fostering agrobiodiversity as the foundation of a new paradigm for localized agri-food system development and sustainability. Accordingly, new systemic and holistic theoretical approaches and conceptual models are needed. This paper aims to identify and [...] Read more.
The international and European literature and institutional contexts are fostering agrobiodiversity as the foundation of a new paradigm for localized agri-food system development and sustainability. Accordingly, new systemic and holistic theoretical approaches and conceptual models are needed. This paper aims to identify and apply a new conceptual framework contributing to the understanding of how the restoring and valorization of underutilized or neglected landraces can act as a trigger for sustainable territorial development. A new holistic model was designed for the characterization and analysis of agrobiodiversity-oriented food systems. We consider the model innovative in enhancing the conceptualization of the adoption of a socio-ecological systems approach. We applied the model to a representative case study involving the localized agri-food system of the Valtiberina Red Onion, a threatened plant landrace cultivated in Tuscany, Italy. A participatory action–research approach was followed, involving both public and private stakeholders. As the main outcome of the paper, we demonstrated the capability of our new SES model by identifying and describing the assets, drivers, human action processes and generated beneficial effects concerning the development and reproduction of landrace-based quality valorization virtuous circles. Our research findings highlighted the model as an innovative tool for the analysis of agrobiodiversity-oriented food systems sustainability. Significantly, the model was designed to identify the combined role of public policy and private action in supporting the implementation of coherent management mechanisms and effective governance settings. Full article
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Article
Preparing for the Worst? Household Food Stockpiling during the Second Wave of COVID-19 in Serbia
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11380; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011380 - 15 Oct 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1007
Abstract
Stockpiling and panic buying are significant components of crisis- and disaster-related consumption behaviors that have gained significant media coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper aims to analyze the features of stockpiling behavior during the second wave of COVID-19 in Serbia based on [...] Read more.
Stockpiling and panic buying are significant components of crisis- and disaster-related consumption behaviors that have gained significant media coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper aims to analyze the features of stockpiling behavior during the second wave of COVID-19 in Serbia based on a structured online questionnaire. This study seeks to answer two questions. First, what factors triggered and affected stockpiling during the COVID-19 pandemic in Serbia? Second, how does stockpiling affect other food habits and diets? A total of 851 valid responses were received. The results highlight several features of the stockpiling behavior in Serbia. First, food stockpiling behavior is influenced by some sociodemographic variables such as gender and household composition. Second, stockpiling was fueled by several negative emotions such as fear, sadness, and depression. Third, the results confirm that stockpiling in Serbia was not triggered by supply shortages but rather by consumers’ concerns of obtaining enough food and rising food prices. Finally, food stockpiling was associated with some positive changes such as eating out less (e.g., restaurants/cafeteria), eating more with their family members, and cooking more food. Analyzing and comprehending consumer food stockpiling patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic may offer policymakers imperative information for adjusting supply and response strategies during future crises. Full article
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Article
Toward Resilient Water-Energy-Food Systems under Shocks: Understanding the Impact of Migration, Pandemics, and Natural Disasters
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9402; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169402 - 21 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1361
Abstract
The historic pandemic faced by the international community today boldly demonstrates the complexity and interconnectedness of the resource challenges we must better understand and address in the future. Further complexity is observed when accounting for the impact of compounded shocks related to natural [...] Read more.
The historic pandemic faced by the international community today boldly demonstrates the complexity and interconnectedness of the resource challenges we must better understand and address in the future. Further complexity is observed when accounting for the impact of compounded shocks related to natural disasters and forced migration around the world. Effectively addressing these challenges requires the development of research that cuts across disciplines and innovates at their interfaces, in order to develop multifaceted solutions that respond to the social, economic, technological, and policy dimensions of these challenges. Water, energy, and food systems are tightly interconnected. They are faced with pressures of varying natures and levels of urgency which need to be better understood, especially as nations work toward achieving the UN 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This paper will review existing models and knowledge gaps related to water-energy-food (WEF) nexus models, as well as models for quantifying the impact of migration, pandemics, and natural disasters on this resource nexus. Specifically, this paper will: (1) explore the WEF nexus literature and identify gaps in current assessment tools and models; (2) explore the literature on tools and models for predicting the shocks of migration, natural disasters, and pandemics; (3) identify interconnections between water, energy, and food systems and the identified shocks; (4) develop a common framework that provides a road map for integrating those shocks in WEF nexus analysis; (5) provide recommendations for future research and policies moving forward. Full article
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Article
Measuring Egyptian Farmers’ Attitude towards Staying Organic
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7978; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147978 - 16 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 928
Abstract
Organic agriculture (OA) in Egypt is well-developed and still fast growing. Improving the relation between organic farmers and the other agents in the chain can provide a positive contribution to the whole organic chain competitiveness. One possible approach to investigate the farmers’ perceived [...] Read more.
Organic agriculture (OA) in Egypt is well-developed and still fast growing. Improving the relation between organic farmers and the other agents in the chain can provide a positive contribution to the whole organic chain competitiveness. One possible approach to investigate the farmers’ perceived role and satisfaction within the organic system is to explore the factors influencing their decision to stay organic. In particular, the aim of the present study was to measure the farmers’ attitude towards staying organic. Organic agricultural experts and institutional stakeholders were interviewed to complete a literature review and to obtain information about the Egyptian context. The survey questionnaire was pre-tested (n = 13) and then administered to a different sample (n = 232). A split-half validation procedure was used to evaluate and then confirm the factor structure. Explorative and confirmatory factor analysis yielded a final 29-item measure consisting of 8 distinct factors showing how organic agriculture influences a broad range of farmers’ life dimensions (environmental, economic, social, psychological). The significant role played by psychological and social factors in defining the farmers’ decision to stay organic emerged as a relatively unexpected outcome. The study supports the sustainable development of small family farmers, providing a useful tool to support the growth of organic production and consumption, mostly in developing countries. By monitoring farmers’ attitudes and perception towards OA, the instrument proposed in the present study can support policy makers, farmers’ organizations, civil society organizations (NGOs) and organic chains focal companies when defining policies, advocating campaigns, and chain coordination strategies for farmers involved in the organic food system development. Full article
Article
Public Consultation on Proposed Revisions to Norway’s Gene Technology Act: An Analysis of the Consultation Framing, Stakeholder Concerns, and the Integration of Non-Safety Considerations
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7643; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147643 - 08 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 954
Abstract
In Norway, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are regulated through the Gene Technology Act of 1993, which has received international attention for its inclusion of non-safety considerations. In 2017, the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board triggered a process to revise the Act that included a [...] Read more.
In Norway, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are regulated through the Gene Technology Act of 1993, which has received international attention for its inclusion of non-safety considerations. In 2017, the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board triggered a process to revise the Act that included a public consultation and resulted in the “Proposal for relaxation.” Using poststructuralist discourse analysis, we critically analyze the premises and processes through which the proposal for relaxation was developed—including the public consultation—to understand the range of stakeholder concerns and how these concerns shaped the final proposal. We find that the proposal does not include all concerns equally. The Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board’s privileging of technological matters and its preference for tier-based regulation skewed the proposal in a way that reduced broader societal concerns to technological definitions and marginalized discussion of the social, cultural, and ethical issues raised by new gene technologies. To prevent such narrowing of stakeholder concerns in the future, we propose Latour’s model for political economy as a tool to gauge the openness of consultations for biotechnology regulation. Full article
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Article
Sustainability Transitions in University Food Service—A Living Lab Approach of Locavore Meal Planning and Procurement
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7305; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137305 - 29 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1444
Abstract
Due to its purchasing power, the public food service sector is viewed as a potential transformative driver towards sustainable food systems. Organic meal planning and regional procurement may be a vital implementation strategy towards Planetary Health Diets in the communal catering arena. Capable [...] Read more.
Due to its purchasing power, the public food service sector is viewed as a potential transformative driver towards sustainable food systems. Organic meal planning and regional procurement may be a vital implementation strategy towards Planetary Health Diets in the communal catering arena. Capable of unleashing desirable synergies within local foodsheds, this transition pathway can potentially benefit all stages of the value chain, while also positively influencing consumer dietary behavior. Transformation, however, poses complex challenges to caterers, as it demands a shift in mindset regarding the philosophy, organization, and management of cafeteria systems as well as the need for affordable and aggregated supplies of source-identified local organic foods. This action research case study engaged the public caterer of a German University, undergraduate students, and additional stakeholders in a Living Lab to develop a weekly farm-to-table cafeteria menu, including its actual preparation, based on a conceptual sustainability standard. Hence, through an iterative process, involving two feedback cycles, an ambitious set of nutritional and procurement criteria were devised, inspired by the external input from exemplary practitioners in the field of green cuisine and procurement. The resulting meal plan was then subjected to an evaluation vis-á-vis its compliance with (1) dietary recommendations, (2) seasonality, (3) organic certification, (4) a defined foodshed boundary, (5) budget neutrality, and (6) life cycle assessment. Full article
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Article
The Organic Mindset: Insights from a Mixed Methods Grounded Theory (MM-GT) Study into Organic Food Systems
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4724; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094724 - 23 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1366
Abstract
A broad understanding of food systems includes a complex web of activities, outcomes and drivers, encompassing not only the food and agriculture sectors, but also the social norms and cultures in which those activities are embedded. The organic food and farming movement has [...] Read more.
A broad understanding of food systems includes a complex web of activities, outcomes and drivers, encompassing not only the food and agriculture sectors, but also the social norms and cultures in which those activities are embedded. The organic food and farming movement has lately been portrayed as a food system of its own right, since it contains all necessary sub-systems, consisting of food environments, distribution networks, processing, as well as production and supply, all of which are bounded by an organic guarantee system. The underlying hypothesis of this investigation is that drivers in the organic food system operate on a paradigm level that is associated with the codified principles of ecology, health, fairness and care. Personality science suggests that the choice to act in pro-environmental ways is driven by an internalized sense of obligation or personal norms, which justifies our pursuit of seeking key drivers of food systems in the mindset of the actor. Through integrated findings from actor-centered mixed methods grounded theory research involving eleven case territories, this study identified a pattern of global mindset attributes that intuitively drive organic food system actors toward holistic human and sustainable development. Full article
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Review

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Review
Will Participatory Guarantee Systems Happen Here? The Case for Innovative Food Systems Governance in the Developed World
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1720; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031720 - 02 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 605
Abstract
Participatory guarantee systems (PGS) are locally-rooted agroecological governance mechanisms primarily designed to meet the needs of local producers for product certification and cooperative sales. They have experienced periodic waves of interest in different places throughout the globe. There is a small but rich [...] Read more.
Participatory guarantee systems (PGS) are locally-rooted agroecological governance mechanisms primarily designed to meet the needs of local producers for product certification and cooperative sales. They have experienced periodic waves of interest in different places throughout the globe. There is a small but rich and growing scholarship devoted to understanding how they are managed, how they are sustained, and what factors predict their success. Interestingly, there is little evidence that they have developed in the United States, which has instead, witnessed the growth of community supported agriculture (CSA), farmer’s markets, food hubs and food policy councils (FPC), although many of these mechanisms have failed to sustain interest and support. Here, we explore the factors that drive the creation of systems in the global South, Europe and other regions, and identify the factors that shape a different trajectory for local agriculture in the United States. We discuss the possibilities for more radical food system transformation in the United States, considering a changing climate, an industrial food system that has prioritized profit over health, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, we conclude by identifying some future pathways for policy reform and research opportunities. Full article
Review
Precision Agroecology
Sustainability 2022, 14(1), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14010106 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1424
Abstract
In response to global calls for sustainable food production, we identify two diverging paradigms to address the future of agriculture. We explore the possibility of uniting these two seemingly diverging paradigms of production-oriented and ecologically oriented agriculture in the form of precision agroecology [...] Read more.
In response to global calls for sustainable food production, we identify two diverging paradigms to address the future of agriculture. We explore the possibility of uniting these two seemingly diverging paradigms of production-oriented and ecologically oriented agriculture in the form of precision agroecology. Merging precision agriculture technology and agroecological principles offers a unique array of solutions driven by data collection, experimentation, and decision support tools. We show how the synthesis of precision technology and agroecological principles results in a new agriculture that can be transformative by (1) reducing inputs with optimized prescriptions, (2) substituting sustainable inputs by using site-specific variable rate technology, (3) incorporating beneficial biodiversity into agroecosystems with precision conservation technology, (4) reconnecting producers and consumers through value-based food chains, and (5) building a just and equitable global food system informed by data-driven food policy. As a result, precision agroecology provides a unique opportunity to synthesize traditional knowledge and novel technology to transform food systems. In doing so, precision agroecology can offer solutions to agriculture’s biggest challenges in achieving sustainability in a major state of global change. Full article
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Review
Sustainable Agri-Food Systems: Environment, Economy, Society, and Policy
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6260; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116260 - 01 Jun 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3278
Abstract
Agri-food systems (AFS) have been central in the debate on sustainable development. Despite this growing interest in AFS, comprehensive analyses of the scholarly literature are hard to find. Therefore, the present systematic review delineated the contours of this growing research strand and analyzed [...] Read more.
Agri-food systems (AFS) have been central in the debate on sustainable development. Despite this growing interest in AFS, comprehensive analyses of the scholarly literature are hard to find. Therefore, the present systematic review delineated the contours of this growing research strand and analyzed how it relates to sustainability. A search performed on the Web of Science in January 2020 yielded 1389 documents, and 1289 were selected and underwent bibliometric and topical analyses. The topical analysis was informed by the SAFA (Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems) approach of FAO and structured along four dimensions viz. environment, economy, society and culture, and policy and governance. The review shows an increasing interest in AFS with an exponential increase in publications number. However, the study field is north-biased and dominated by researchers and organizations from developed countries. Moreover, the analysis suggests that while environmental aspects are sufficiently addressed, social, economic, and political ones are generally overlooked. The paper ends by providing directions for future research and listing some topics to be integrated into a comprehensive, multidisciplinary agenda addressing the multifaceted (un)sustainability of AFS. It makes the case for adopting a holistic, 4-P (planet, people, profit, policy) approach in agri-food system studies. Full article
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