UNE & China to talk food security, sustainability and the law

Published 19 February 2014

Law Conference ChinaThe University of New England Law School is gearing up to tackle the big questions of food security, sustainability and the environment in the backyard of the world’s largest consumer: China.

On May 23-25, UNE will co-host a major international conference in China together with the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) on The Governance Challenges of Food Systems.

Making use of UNE’s particular expertise in agricultural law, the conference will explore a range of issues at a national and international level, including the challenges that exist in maintaining efficient food systems, and the environmental factors of feeding populations.

The head of the UNE School of Law, Michael Stuckey, says that the conference is an opportunity to examine the possibilities for legal reform relevant to food systems.

“The world population is rapidly increasing, and nowhere is this more obvious than in China. If we are to feed the population of the future, we need to start looking at factors that have their basis in law and in agriculture.

“Both the consumption and supply side of the food balance pose massive practical and ethical challenges. It is the role of law to ensure that these issues are adequately addressed in practice.

“Australia is a significant food-producing country, and China is the world’s largest consumer. By working in academic partnership, our experts will be able to identify challenges and come up with solutions for the future.

“UNE is very strong in the areas of agricultural law, environmental law and food security, and these are critical policy areas for both China and Australia and go right to the heart of national interests.”

Among the issues to be addressed at the Conference is the way in which governance can reduce harmful impacts of farming on the environment and upon people, and how different rivalries over resources involved in the food system can be better identified and managed.

The equitable distribution of food costs between peoples, regions and communities, as well as the risks and regulations of modern food-system technologies will also be on the agenda.

Professor Stuckey says he has high hopes for practical outcomes from the Conference.

“It is our intention that the Conference will do far more than document food systems and legal issues. Our hope is that together the participants will propose significant directions for reform of the law and legal institutions, towards creating a world food system that is more efficient in meeting people’s needs, does less harm to the earth, and is far more fair than present systems.”