Global Food Justice is a three-year interdisciplinary research project taking place at the University of Sheffield. Its researchers are based in the Department of Politics.
Public and political concerns over such issues as food price volatility, increased malnutrition and the effects of extreme weather shocks on food production have led to a growing body of academic work on ‘food security’ and ‘resilience’. Such work is vital insofar as it seeks to protect the fundamental human interest in adequate nutrition. However, it is a key premise of this research project that realising an effective system of global food production will require more than an examination of how global food output and global nutritional needs can be boosted. What is required is a socially and politically transformative approach grounded in basic concerns of justice. The need for this novel justice-based approach is based on three core assumptions: first, that there are several compelling ethical goods at stake in food production (nutritional health, animal welfare, livelihood of food producers and environmental sustainability); second, that current food production models are global and integrated; and finally, that global institutions have a key role in the realisation of a just global food system.
Four research questions follow from these assumptions:
1. As a matter of substantive justice, how ought we to balance the difficult tensions that exist between the ethical goods of nutritional health, animal welfare, livelihood and environmental sustainability in the global production and consumption of food?
2. By way of contrast, how are these ethical tensions currently balanced within existing global food production and consumption chains?
3. If key participants in food production and consumption were to deliberate upon these ethical goods, their meanings, and priority – then how would they suggest to balance these ethical goods?
4. What reforms are required in the existing governance architecture (from local to global levels) to realise global food justice? What factors may obstruct such reforms?