February 10, 2015: Student Lecture
Verena Seufert and Emily Anderson

IRES Seminar Series

Time: 12:30-1:30 pm

Location: AERL Theatre (room 120), 2202 Main Mall

Organic agriculture – a more environmentally friendly farming system?

Presented by Verena Seufert.

Verena SeufertAgriculture is a major source of environmental degradation, contributing to climate change, depleting freshwater resources, threatening biodiversity, degrading soil fertility and polluting the environment through fertilizer and pesticide use. Organic agriculture is often suggested as a more environmentally friendly farming practice that reduces some of these negative environmental externalities. But what exactly does organic agriculture mean today? How are environmental best practices regulated in organic agriculture? And what evidence do we have about the environmental performance of organic agriculture? In this talk I will first conduct a comparison of organic regulatory texts across the world to assess how organic agriculture is conceived, and how environmental principles are represented in organic regulations today. Second, I will systematically examine the environmental performance of organic agriculture across multiple dimensions. I will outline where organic agriculture performs well, where it is facing issues, and I will highlight important knowledge gaps. The talk will conclude with an assessment of how the regulatory framework for organic agriculture is shaping its environmental performance, and how changes in organic regulations could improve the environmental sustainability of organic farming.


‘Market’ participation for environment and development: An exploration of participation in food and environmental service markets in Costa Rica

Presented by Emily Anderson.

Emily Anderson Feb 10_2015 Talk


Increasingly, global food value chains are becoming coordinated, meaning that these value chains are being controlled by a strong intermediary who manages the transaction from producers to distant buyers. There is increasing interest in using payments for environmental services (PES) programs as a tool for conservation in agricultural settings. Producer participation in these coordinated food markets and environmental service ‘markets’ (acknowledging that many environmental service transactions are not clearly “markets”)  is being promoted to realize development and conservation goals. For my PhD research, I am looking at human and environmental outcomes when producers participate in these two types of transactions, considering how these activities might be similar or different from the point of view of the farmer, and when and how participation might deliver human and environmental benefits. Currently, I am analyzing data from a case study of producers participating in the dairy sector and the PES program in Costa Rica. In this talk, I will present the background and context to my research, the Costa Rican case, and some potentially interesting stories that I am exploring in my data.