School of Law

Research Student: Alicia A Epstein

The European Approach to Sustainable Food Security: Is the Law Keeping us Secure?

Photo of Alicia A Epstein

I am a PhD Candidate at the School of Law and my research looks at the issue of food security under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

In recent years, concerns over food (in)security have prompted various EU institutions to declare it as one of the most pressing challenges facing society and agriculture in the 21st century. Moreover, the legal and policy reforms set to be made to the CAP are being drafted amidst a time of price volatility, climate change, pressure to expand agro-trade liberalisation and increased competition for agricultural resources from non-food outputs such as biofuels. The CAP reforms must also be placed within the geo-political context of a global population that is predicted to reach 9 billion by the year 2050. It follows that the CAP is under increasing pressure to do its part to feed, not only Europe, but also the world.

The principle research question guiding this doctrinal thesis is:

How can the CAP contribute to sustainable food security?

This question is primarily posed in response to recent academic and policy debates that talk of objectives such as the sustainable intensification of agricultural production in response to the aforementioned challenges to food security. The logical sub questions are therefore:

  • What is meant by sustainability in the context of food security and agricultural production?
  • What is sustainable food security?

In order to answer these research questions the thesis is grounded in a theoretical discussion on the legal principle of sustainability and its normative and functional roles within the context of food security. These theoretical considerations are then employed, on the EU level, to analyse the latest set of legislative proposals and legal instruments under the CAP and their potential impacts upon the sustainability of food security. The thesis also considers some of the external pressures, obligations and agreements (such as those of the WTO) that have the potential to impact upon the sustainability of food security under the CAP.

Apart from my own research, I teach on the senior year law module of Equity and Trusts, as well as EU law. I would also be interested in exchanging ideas and information with anyone sharing similar research interests.

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