22nd Annual STS Conference Graz 2024 „Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies“

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F.1. David against Goliath: Diversity to foster resilient agri-food systems

Katharina Biely
Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands

Agri-food systems are coined by market concentration [1]. However, this concentration creates lock-ins and dependencies. The Ukraine war illustrated, amongst others, the risk of dependencies within the agri-food system [2]. Furthermore, the reduction of diversity on the fields makes crops more prone to the development and spread of pathogens. Examples are the Panama disease on banana plantations or the bird flu for poultry farming. These pathogens can also pose a risk to human health (e.g., through new pandemics).

Thus, the reduction of diversity on the field as well as the concentration along the value chain reduces the resilience of the agri-food system. Therefore, sustainable agri-food systems need to embrace diversity on the field and along the value chain. There are initiatives and trends to increase diversity such as alternative farm practices (e.g., organic farming, agroecology, and integrated farming) and alternative marketing channels (e.g., community-supported agriculture, vegetable boxes, direct marketing, food cooperatives). However, these initiatives remain negligible. The current agri-food system supports efficiency and profit maximization, which might not provide vital ground for diversity to flourish.

In this session, we want to explore initiatives that foster diversity on the field and along the supply chain to increase the sustainability and resilience of agri-food systems. We welcome contributions along this main theme as well as on the following lines:

Diversity and resilience: Studies that shed light on the connection between diversity within agri-food systems and resilience.
Barriers and success strategies: Studies that explore how initiatives develop and survive in an environment that might not support diversity.
Agri-food transformation: Studies that investigate how diversification could become mainstream.

1. Shand, H., K.J. Wetter, and K. Chowdhry, Food Barons 2022: Crisis Profiteering, Digitalization and Shifting Power. 2022, ETC Group.
2. Liu, L., et al., The cascade influence of grain trade shocks on countries in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 2023. 10(1): p. 449.
PeriodApr 2024
Event typeConference
Conference number22
LocationGraz, AustriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational