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Can Organic Farming Reduce Vulnerabilities and Enhance the Resilience of the European Food System? A Critical Assessment Using System Dynamics Structural Thinking Tools

Author

Listed:
  • Natalia Brzezina

    () (Sustainable Food Economies Research Group, KU Leuven, Leuven 3001, Belgium)

  • Birgit Kopainsky

    () (System Dynamics Group, University of Bergen, Bergen 5020, Norway)

  • Erik Mathijs

    () (Sustainable Food Economies Research Group, KU Leuven, Leuven 3001, Belgium)

Abstract

In a world of growing complexity and uncertainty, food systems must be resilient, i.e., able to deliver sustainable and equitable food and nutrition security in the face of multiple shocks and stresses. The resilience of the European food system that relies mostly on conventional agriculture is a matter of genuine concern and a new approach is called for. Does then organic farming have the potential to reduce vulnerabilities and improve the resilience of the European food system to shocks and stresses? In this paper, we use system dynamics structural thinking tools to identify the vulnerabilities of the conventional food system that result from both its internal structure as well as its exposure to external disturbances. Further, we evaluate whether organic farming can reduce the vulnerabilities. We argue here that organic farming has some potential to bring resilience to the European food system, but it has to be carefully designed and implemented to overcome the contradictions between the dominant socio-economic organization of food production and the ability to enact all organic farming’s principles—health, ecology, fairness and care—on a broader scale.

Suggested Citation

  • Natalia Brzezina & Birgit Kopainsky & Erik Mathijs, 2016. "Can Organic Farming Reduce Vulnerabilities and Enhance the Resilience of the European Food System? A Critical Assessment Using System Dynamics Structural Thinking Tools," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-32, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:10:p:971-:d:78849
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:5:p:821-:d:98661 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:545-:d:94918 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Pavlos Karanikolas & Dimitrios Theocharidis & Thedoros Tsiligiridis & Konstantinos Tsiboukas, 2017. "Small farms contribution to food security: a food system resilience perspective," Working Papers 2017-1, Agricultural University of Athens, Department Of Agricultural Economics.
    4. Jeroen C. J. Groot & José Cortez-Arriola & Walter A. H. Rossing & Ricardo D. Améndola Massiotti & Pablo Tittonell, 2016. "Capturing Agroecosystem Vulnerability and Resilience," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(11), pages 1-12, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    conventional agriculture; organic farming; system dynamics; food system; food and nutrition security; vulnerability; resilience; feedback loops; causal loop diagram;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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