Type: Book

Transforming food systems The quest for sustainability


Dr Dave Watson is a leading authority on sustainable development and optimising value chains in agriculture. He has taught courses on sustainable development for the University of Hull (UK), as well as managing research and development programmes for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico. Dr Watson is editor of the two-volume Achieving sustainable cultivation of maize, also published by Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing.



Publication date:

09 July 2024

Length of book:

456 pages

ISBN-13: 9781786764553

Hardback - £150.00
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There is an almost universal recognition that modern agri-food supply chains are unsustainable. They are seen as both contributing to and vulnerable to climate change, too reliant on environmentally-damaging synthetic inputs, as undermining biodiversity, generating significant losses and waste and failing to deliver the nutritious food required for a healthy, balanced diet.

Transforming food systems: The quest for sustainability addresses one of the greatest global challenges of our time: how to reform food systems so they are more sustainable but still able to produce the food we need. The book traces the evolution of the current global food production system and reviews competing approaches to achieving more sustainable production, starting with ‘reformist’ approaches which promote new technologies as a way forward, such as genetic modification and synthetic foods.

This collection also considers the pros and cons of ‘progressive’ approaches, such as regenerative and organic agriculture, as well as the more radical solutions which seek to achieve a more fundamental reform of the food system.

As the world tackles the central question of how food should be produced in the future, this book provides readers with an authoritative guide to the various solutions on offer and how to assess which road we should take.

What others are saying...

"The global climate crisis is focusing attention on the need to transform food systems to improve sustainability and reduce detrimental environmental impacts. Globally, around a third of greenhouse gas emissions are generated by food systems. This book provides an authoritative account of the evolution of the global food system and the various prescriptions for reform currently in play. Using the conceptual prism of regimes of accumulation, it helps make sense of different alternative food systems and sheds light on the prospects for incremental and radical reform. With over 120 pages of references, it will provide an invaluable source for students and scholars interested in the sustainability food." (Professor Neil Ward, University of East Anglia, UK and author of 'Net Zero, Food and Farming: Climate Change and the UK Agri-Food System')

Table of contents

Part 1 The global food system

  • 1.Emergence of the global food system
  • 2.Trouble at t'mill
  • 3.Drivers and outcomes of change

Part 2 Competing paradigms of food production

  • 4.Neo-productivist food systems
  • 5.Reformist food systems
  • 6.Progressive food systems
  • 7.Radical food systems

Part 3 The golden chalice of sustainability and the evolution of food systems

  • 8.The golden chalice of sustainability
  • 9.Food system evolution