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Journal Articles Environmental Science & Policy Year : 2023

Moving beyond pesticides: exploring alternatives for a changing food system


This introductory article to the special issue contributes to ongoing debates on pesticides in agriculture by focusing on their alternatives. Through a literature review, we explore the pluralism of those alternatives and the socio-political processes that support or hinder their expansion. The first section examines the obstacles encountered by public policies aimed at reducing pesticide use. Resistances are both external to public decision-making, i.e. agricultural players, agrochemical firms, and internal, related to the existing regulatory mechanisms, including the scientific expertise used to assess risks. The second section introduces the two main families of alternatives to pesticides, and their respective political and scientific underpinnings. On the one hand, solutions based on substitution through alternative technologies, such as biocontrol. On the other hand, solutions based on the systemic redesign of agricultural systems, such as organic farming or agroecology. The third section presents the contributions that make up this special issue. We highlight the political work carried out at the interface between policies, expertise and markets in order to legitimise one or the other alternative. Beyond a strictly technological approach, the papers stress the importance of considering the diversity of components, stakeholders and processes involved at the whole food system level. Farmers and practitioners make complex production choices and trade-offs. These decisions are influenced by policies and upstream companies, which offer inputs or plant health diagnostic technologies, and by downstream actors, i.e.processors, retailers and policymakers, who shape the markets for pesticide-free food. The approach we propose here calls for a fresh sociological look at policymaking and expertise involved in identifying and dealing with pesticides issues.
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Dates and versions

hal-04142698 , version 1 (12-01-2024)



Frédéric Goulet, Alexis Aulagnier, Eve Fouilleux. Moving beyond pesticides: exploring alternatives for a changing food system. Environmental Science & Policy, 2023, 147, pp.177-187. ⟨10.1016/j.envsci.2023.06.007⟩. ⟨hal-04142698⟩
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