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(PW011) Assessing the Sustainability of Food Consumption and Production Systems.
Green, K1, Foster, C1, Yakovleva, N2, Flynn, A2, 1 Manchester Business School, Manchester, UK2 Unversity of Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales, UK
ABSTRACT- This paper describes a framework for the assessment of the relative sustainability of different food consumption and production systems (FPCSs), shows how it can be applied in practice to different FPCSs and discusses its practical application in the context of future-oriented research into food systems and the role of technologies in enhancing their sustainability. A food consumption and production system is defined as a sequence of activities, starting with the production of plant seed or the birth of infant animals, that link together to bring a particular food, in a variety of processed and unprocessed forms, to consumers′ mouths. This paper begins by describing the derivation of an indicator set to characterise the impact on society, the national economy and the environment of such systems that is intended to facilitate comparisons of their sustainability, and in particular to inform a discussion of the trade-offs involved in moving to new FCPSs which might rely on different technologies from those that enable and shape the current systems. The application of this indicator set to 4 food systems – cod, salmon, chicken and potatoes – terminating in the UK is described and the results compared. This comparison illustrates the difficulty of objectively defining the concept ′more sustainable′ with respect to food systems. Since an indicator set covering impacts on the environment, society and the economy from all stages of the food chain is inevitably extensive, the paper concludes by outlining one approach to producing from it a more compact form that preserves the system perspective. It is suggested that such a form is particularly valuable in discussions with stakeholders across the FCPS about the potential system-wide impacts of change.
Key words: assessment, sustainability, food, systems
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