Three months have already passed since I joined FEAST Project as a researcher. Having spent two and half a year in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, I was stunned by the bustling city of Kyoto filled with tourists.
I did my Ph.D. study on seed systems at Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University. Various social systems co-exist in different phases, from development to production and sales of seeds, technoscience including genetic engineering, intellectual property rights that protects those outputs, legal systems that guarantee the quality of seeds and subsequently secure markets. These systems are well intertwined to secure a stable supply of seeds, but they could sometime prevent farmers from handling seeds freely. We also need to be aware of the diversity of the cultivation environment and method, and management principles of agriculture. Thus, my question has been how social systems of seeds can correspond to the values that farmers pursue in agriculture. I have always asked this when visiting organic farmers, seed companies, public research institutes and other stakeholders.
At FEAST, I am part of Working Group 2 “Collaborative Approaches for Food Ethics, Citizenship, and Behavioral Change” that explores sustainable agrifood transitions through participatory approaches, in addition to my research on seed systems. We consider how consumers think and act in relation to food as a key to realize sustainable food and agriculture. Of course, giving more than a passing thought to the situation of food producers is never insignificant, but it does not give us a tangible solution. It is necessary to think about food with a broader perspective. For example, you might want to think if the elderly citizens have an easy access to fresh produces, if children have nutritionally balanced meals and how much waste are generated at home and restaurants in your area of residence. Food is inextricably linked to a wide range of social problems, coming into play in lives of both children and adults.
Among the activities of WG2, I am mainly engaged in research in Kyoto. In Kyoto, we organize seminars and workshops in collaboration with citizens, corporates and municipality with a specific objective to set up a platform in which we can discuss and propose holistic food policy for the better future of Kyoto.
What is most important is to approach an agenda from various standpoints whether it be seed system study or participatory agrifood study. At FEAST, I hope to contribute to creating the future of sustainable and diverse food and agriculture together with as many as stakeholders.
(Translated by Yuko K.)