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Food Justice, Policies and Regulations

Keywords: Food governance; food standards; sustainable food; human rights; history of regulations

Area Coordinators: Michele A. Fino

Abstract: The governance of global value chains in the agri-food sector has become one of the most important challenges of our times. The way in which food is produced, distributed and consumed generates major inequalities and increasing unbalances between the global north and the global south and between different actors of the food value chain. Climate change, water scarcity and biodiversity loss are both causes and effects of agricultural crises worldwide, further increasing social and environmental injustice. The agri-food sector is also a major source of human rights abuses, where child labor and work exploitation are mostly widespread and intensive cultivations are threatening the lives and cultures of vulnerable groups and indigenous communities. These challenges call for a change of perspective, in the light of building sustainable food chains.

In this scenario, non-state actors increasingly became crucial players. Companies in particular gained considerable importance not only as actors of food value chains, but also as rule-makers in the context of multi-stakeholder initiatives. Furthermore, NGOs and private associations, together with third-party certifiers and auditors, governs voluntary sustainability standard systems, creating social and environmental standards and assessing their compliance along the food chain.

The traditional role of State authority as the monopolist keeper of the legislative power in this field seems to be faded away and well-known categories of law seem to be ineffective in answering the new challenges posed by the stepping in of private actors in the regulatory system of food production.

This panel aims at developing discussion around some of the most pressing questions arising out of the current structure of food governance and the use of laws, policies and regulations as proper instruments to tackle the inequalities linked to food production.

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