"What do we eat and why?" is the starting point of this work, which focuses on the correlation between modern food production systems and climate change, considering the serious consequences this phenomenon implies in terms of food and environmental safety. In 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a warning to humanity, urging it to promote policies that reverse the worrying trend in terms of exploitation of natural resources. Agriculture and farming were denoted among the main causes of global warming. A first indicator of the close relationship between the agri-food sector and the environment is the very fact that while these activities contribute to one fifth of global CO2 emissions, on the other hand they are directly damaged by sudden climatic changes. A second manifesto, in 2017, confirmed that this trajectory has not deviated. Questioning the principles that today characterise our food regime is the prerequisite for any discussion about the responsibility to build the foundations of a sustainable production system. The promotion of a legislative framework that favours a green agricultural model and a healthy lifestyle is too often considered a mere political or moral duty. This research intends instead to reflect on the existence of a government’s concrete legal responsibility. National governments, ignoring countless scientific opinions drawing attention to the unsustainability of the current modus operandi, deny their citizens the enjoyment of fundamental rights, such as the right to food, water, and a healthy environment. In this context, the jurist can provide added value: the activities of which the Food Supply Chain is constituted form a complex system result of which is a violation of human rights. This conclusion has been possible thanks to the recent jurisprudential development and to an environmental sensibility that has encouraged, for example, a group of breeders, farmers and beekeepers, to denounce the EU policies for the mitigation of climate change in front of the CJEU. It is therefore in the perspective of the respect for human rights that the phenomenon of global warming is investigated, not considering it a mere environmental problem. Of course, the impacts of climate change on the environment are disastrous; however, several other economic, social and health negative externalities affect the structure of the food chain. The analysis of the international legal system, as well as of the European and Australian legal systems in particular, confirms that environmental problems continue to be addressed following an old blueprint. The policies of mitigation and adaptation to climate change contain few references to the current food production system, even less information about the commercial and financial dynamics developed around food products, and the efforts to involve the major actors of the Food Supply Chain in the necessary reforms are still rare. Environmental law continues to be considered a minor matter, incapable of informing and regulating all human activities that are likely to have an impact on ecosystems, as would be desirable. Only when looking at the agri-food sector in light of the principles of environmental sustainability and respect for human life, a more correct assessment of the costs of the entire structure is possible. This is the so-called true cost accounting analysis, which can be applied to both agricultural production systems and food distribution systems and consumption models. The opening chapters of this research contain a thorough analysis of the main agricultural production systems - conventional, GMO and biological - bringing to light positive aspects but also negative ones of each of them - for example, the paradox of the “industrial organic” and the perverse effect of the organic certification system, which ends up excluding small farmers from the market, favouring large companies that can afford to bear certification costs and bureaucratic obligations. Also, GMO agriculture: a certain scientific doctrine describes it as the key to establishing a sustainable agricultural model, not needing fertilizers and being best suited to the new climatic conditions on the planet; others highlight problematic issues of intellectual property and civil liability in case of contamination and, even more urgent, the question of the loss of biodiversity caused by the spread of monocultures of so-called "cash crops", such as corn and soybeans, to the detriment of more nutritious but less profitable cereals and legumes. The research proceeds to investigate the practice of food distribution, which now takes place mainly through global channels, driven in most cases by the same multinational companies that control the stages of cultivation and processing of food crops. Food is now marketed like any other goods on the market, therefore losing its cultural and social connotation; it is also subject to financialisation, a process that has contributed to aggravating the financial crisis that occurred between 2007-2008, when the price of food soared without this having depended on the physical availability of food. Finally, reference is made to the role of the consumer in the food chain: as a final purchaser of the products, he retains a certain decision-making power, despite the pounding marketing work going on underway. The consumption model that is now imposed in the Western society, which is still expanding, promotes a physical and mental detachment between consumers and producers, and tends to over-consumption. It helps to distort the relationship between humans and the food they consume, resulting in unhealthy eating habits and in the spread of diseases and eating disorders resulting in growing health costs. The picture stemming from this multidisciplinary analysis is clear: the zero-emissions-target can only be reached through a reform of the agri-food system. The same definition of Food System Governance was born while analysing the connection between global climate change and food security, in particular of their impact on the ecosystem, as well as on a whole series of internationally recognised human rights. First and foremost, the right to food: the rapid growth of the global population and the simultaneous decrease in agricultural productivity put at risk the ability to produce a sufficient quantity of food. Furthermore, the mere availability of adequate quantities of food is no guarantee of a real and adequate supply, which is linked to economic, financial and political events too. This has been made clear with the definition of food security presented by the FAO at the 1996 World Food Summit and widely adopted on the international scene. According to this definition, the term indicates a situation in which “all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Also, the right to water, which has been recognised more recently by the UN and is constantly endangered by obsolete agricultural production techniques. Today, the agri-food sector consumes or pollutes 92% of the water resources available to humans. Other factors contribute to water scarcity: reckless choices with respect to the geographical characteristics of the places of production (for example, the breeding of cattle in Australian desert areas to satisfy the ever-increasing consumption of meat), and a global trade structure. These and various other activities lead to an increase in the water footprint of the Food Supply Chain. Increasing quantities of food, feed and bio-fuels are exchanged from one country to another, drawing significant losses and shifts in water resources. Some jurists theorise that these pressures on human rights are sufficient to justify the ascertainment of a legal responsibility on the part of state governments, which, in the vast majority of cases, are signatories of international agreements to protect human rights. In this context, climate change is the result of an inadequate legal framework that still allows environmental degradation to levels that threaten the survival of the human species itself. In conclusion, the international recognition of a personal right to enjoy a healthy environment, already declared at constitutional level in different countries of the world, is a fundamental tool to push public and private actors to promote sustainable policies and business models. In the absence of such recognition, the link between a healthy environment and the protection of human rights remains fragile, and, to respond to the initial question, leaves to the individuals the task of giving the effective value to a food product that comes from an environmentally and economically sustainable Food Chain. The market price of food, in fact, does not reflect the real environmental cost that its production entails nor the impact on farmers and consumers and animal welfare.
|Titolo:||Unravelling the nexus between food systems and climate change: a legal analisys. A Plea for smart agriculture, a "new" organic agriculture and a wiser use of biotechnologies in the name of human rights protection|
|Luogo di edizione:||Trento|
|Casa editrice:||Università degli studi di Trento. Facoltà di Giurisprudenza|
|Anno di pubblicazione:||2019|
|Citazione:||Unravelling the nexus between food systems and climate change: a legal analisys. A Plea for smart agriculture, a "new" organic agriculture and a wiser use of biotechnologies in the name of human rights protection / Telch, Alessandra. - ELETTRONICO. - (2019).|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||07.2 Altre pubblicazioni (Other types of publications)|