Food Justice

Convenor: Cristian Timmermann, Interdisciplinary Centre for Bioethics Research & Institute of International Studies, Universidad de Chile


The workshop aims to discover and discuss what political theory can do to understand social injustices in the food sector.

Fighting hunger and malnutrition remains one of the biggest social challenges in the world.
To make food production and distribution system fair, we have to look at problems that go
far beyond securing sufficient access to food for everyone. There are a number of different groups that show discontent towards the food systems and they are making different accusations. Food sovereignty advocates are demanding a right to produce food and to have a democratic voice over food and agriculture policies. Urban farmers are demanding access to empty public spaces to grow food. While organic farmers are demanding more public funding for agroecological research and better regulations to protect them against pollutants coming from conventional agriculture, biotechnologist and their supporters are fighting for more freedom to use genetically modified crops to adapt agriculture to the upcoming climatic challenges and to offer improved varieties to fight malnutrition. The strong link between obesity, cheap food and poverty puts food processors and public health agencies in a difficult situation. Water and land scarcity are leading to social unrest. Large-scale monoculture fields are displacing smallholders, leading to losses in traditional knowledge and local seed varieties. The practice of withholding food reserves is still used in many countries by ruling classes and political parties to disrupt elected governments and gain sympathy among supporters. These problems require a political solution and here political theory could play a crucial rule to justify the normative dimension of policies that confront these social and environmental issues.

Possible topics:
– Innovation in agriculture and social justice
– Food sovereignty vs. food security
– Coexistence of different farming systems
– Land and water rights in a world of limited resources
– Conservation of agricultural genetic resources and traditional knowledge
– Indigenous peoples and food
– Climate change and adaptation of food systems
– Social issues of agroecology
– Modern diets and malnutrition
– Trade agreements, agriculture and global justice