Abstract for: Organic farming as policy to address vulnerabilities of the prevailing European food system based on conventional agriculture?

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. Can then organic farming reduce vulnerability and improve resilience of the 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 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.