Inclusive Responsibility is a new website to accompany the book Rethinking Food and Agriculture: New Ways Forward, edited by Amir Kassam and Laila Kassam.
The book advocates for sustainable veganic agriculture, exploring some of the key drivers and root causes of unsustainability, degradation of the agricultural environment and destruction of nature.
Rethinking Food and Agriculture: New Ways Forward is published by Elsevier.
“An inclusively responsible food and agriculture system would encourage society to focus on agro-ecological sustainability as an integral part of overall ecosystem sustainability based on planetary boundaries. Such a system would place importance on quality of life, pluralism, equity and justice for all. It would emphasise the health, well-being, sovereignty, dignity and rights of farmers, consumers and all other stakeholders, as well as of nonhuman animals and the natural world. The concept of ‘inclusive responsibility’ is ultimately based on an understanding of the interconnectedness of nature and the place and responsibility of human society within it.”
In our view, the multiple connected crises we are facing ultimately reflect an underlying crisis of ethics and values. For example our economic system, which is a huge driver of these crises, is based on competition, individualism, colonisation, racism, patriarchy, extraction, materialism, mass consumerism, infinite growth, accumulation, inequality, injustice, exclusion, exploitation and commodification of humans, other animals and the earth.
If we want truly meaningful and systemic solutions to the root causes, we need to build alternatives to this system. Whatever political, economic, food, agriculture and other systems we create, must be underpinned by an ethical framework of responsibility aligned with universal human values. These values, such as love, compassion, empathy, care, honesty, integrity, trust, transparency, inclusion, diversity, pluralism, connection, collaboration, participation, peace, nonviolence, equity, justice for all beings (human and nonhuman) and sustainability, need to underpin the new systems, otherwise we will keep on recreating the same problems.
In our view these changes should be guided by the concept of ‘inclusive responsibility’. This concept reflects a move towards an alternative ethical framework based in these universal values. It also encompasses the six key themes distilled from the chapters in the book. The core values of such a framework could be summarised as: inclusion, interdependence, pluralism, justice, equity, and care.
The idea of inclusive responsibility is to integrate and apply this ethical framework at every level of the food and agriculture system, from local to global, from production to consumption, from individual to community and society. The idea of inclusive responsibility is also to apply this ethical framework ‘inclusively’ i.e. not just to humans, but also to other animals and the planet. In addition the idea of inclusive responsibility highlights our individual and collective responsibility to contribute to changing the food and agriculture system. In our view if we were all to apply this concept consistently and comprehensively, we would be on the path to transforming our food and agriculture system into one that is truly sustainable and just for all.
An inclusively responsible food and agriculture paradigm would:
1. be ecologically sustainable and multifunctional
2. be relevant for smallholders, their innovation and development strategies;
3. meet the increasing need for sustainable, nutritious and healthy whole-food plant-based diets;
4. integrate into the wider social movements resisting the corporate food regime and fighting for local autonomy, food sovereignty, and land and seed justice;
5. respect and protect the rights of all sentient beings, both human and nonhuman, to live free from human oppression, exploitation and harm; and
6. respect and protect the rights of nature based on a duty of care towards the Earth.
About the Website
This website gives a preview of the book Rethinking Food and Agriculture: New Ways Forward, edited by Amir Kassam and Laila Kassam, published by Elsevier in October 2020. It shares extracts from each of the 20 chapters and provides information about each of the authors. It highlights some of the book’s key themes along with the concept of ‘inclusive responsibility’ developed in the book.
About the Book
Given the central role of the food and agriculture system in driving so many of the interconnected ecological, social and economic crises we currently face, Rethinking Food and Agriculture reviews, reassesses and reimagines the current food and agriculture system and the narrow paradigm in which it operates.
The book explores and uncovers some of the key drivers and root causes of unsustainability, degradation of the agricultural environment, destruction of nature and drawbacks in the dominant science and knowledge system. It reviews efforts towards ‘sustainable development’ and reassesses whether they have led to improved sustainability, equity and justice. The book highlights the many ways that farmers and their communities, civil society groups, social movements, development experts, scientists and others have been raising awareness of these issues, implementing solutions and forging ‘new ways forward’. These ways forward include alternative paradigms of agriculture, human nutrition and political economy, which are more sustainable and just.
The book proposes ways to move beyond the current limited view of agro-ecological sustainability towards overall sustainability of the food and agriculture system based on ‘inclusive responsibility’. Inclusive responsibility encourages ecosystem sustainability based on agro-ecological and planetary limits to sustainable resource use. It also places importance on quality of life, pluralism, equity and justice for all. It emphasises the health, well-being, sovereignty, dignity and rights of all stakeholders, as well as of nonhuman animals and the natural world.
The book brings together some of the most experienced and forward-thinking academics, activists, development professionals and practitioners in the field. It is a valuable resource for all stakeholders in the public, private and civil sectors of the food and agriculture system including students, academics, activists, researchers, policymakers and politicians.
About The Authors
Rupert Sheldrake, PhD
Rupert Sheldrake, PhD is a biologist and author of more than 90 technical papers and nine books, including The Science Delusion (called Science Set Free in the US), and the co-author of six books. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University, a Research Fellow of the Royal Society, and a Frank Know Fellow at Harvard. He worked in India as Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). From 2005-2010, he was Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project for the study of unexplained human and animal abilities, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California and of Schumacher College in Devon, England. He lives in London.
Doug Bristor is from Cambridge and has a background in ICT and Fractal modelling. Professionally, he is a ‘layperson’ in nutrition. However, he has many years of experience working in the education sector with emotionally and behaviourally challenged students. It is through this work that he became aware of the impact of poor nutrition on physical and emotional health. He was also made aware of the lack of adequate nutrition education and the systemic resistance to information and understanding that challenges current behaviour and thinking. He is committed to supporting health professionals access and present scientific information that promotes a healthful, ethical and sustainable way of living.
Robert Chambers is a Research Associate and Emeritus Professor in the Participation Team at IDS where he has been based for most of his life, with extended periods in East Africa and South Asia, mainly India. He has worked as a government field administrator, a trainer, an evaluator, and a donor programme officer, including time with UNHCR and the Ford Foundation. In 1993 he was one of a team who facilitated the first PRA (participatory rural appraisal) training in China (in Kunming). His books include: Rural Development: Putting the last first (1983), Farmer First (1989, co-editor), Whose Reality Counts? Putting the first last (1997), Participatory Workshops (2002), Ideas for Development (2005), Revolutions in Development Inquiry (2008), Into the Unknown: Explorations in development practice (2014), and Can we know better? (2017). His current concerns and interests include professionalism, power, the personal dimension in development, participatory methodologies, teaching and learning with large numbers, biases and blind spots, and community-led leaving no one behind.
Emilio J. González-Sanchez
Emilio González-Sanchez, from Cordoba, Spain, is an Agronomical Engineer from the University of Cordoba. For the last 15 years he has been working for the Spanish Conservation Agriculture Association / Living Soils (AEAC/SV). He was the General Secretary of the European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF), Brussels, between 2005-2008; and from 2008, he was Adjunct Professor at the Rural Engineering Department of the University of Cordoba. Emilio’s background is in sustainable agriculture and land management based on the principles of Conservation Agriculture, with a special focus on climate change mitigation, mechanization and environmental impact assessment. He has been the general coordinator of several European Union funded projects, and has been appointed as International Consultant on Conservation Agriculture and Climate Smart Agriculture by FAO in Armenia, Cuba, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Emilio is a member of the International Conservation Agriculture Advisory Panel (ICAAP – Africa).
Hans R. Herren
Hans R. Herren, PhD is founder and President of the Biovision Foundation (Zurich) and President of the Millennium Institute (Washington DC). Until 2005 he was Director General of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya. He was Director of the Plant Health Division at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria (1979-1994). He has MSc and PhD degrees in agronomy, plant breeding and entomology (ETH-Z), with specialization in biological control (UC Berkeley). For his scientific and development achievements he has been awarded among others the Right Livelihood Award 2013; World Food Prize 1995; Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement 2003; the National Academy of Sciences and the Third World Academy of Sciences membership, and is member of IPES-Food and the IFOAM-OI World Board. He also co-chaired the UN and World Bank sponsored International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD, 2009).
David J.A. Jenkins is an University Professor, and Canada Research Chair, in the Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Medicine. He was educated at Oxford University, obtaining his DM, DPhil and DSc. He has served on committees in Canada and the United States that formulated nutritional guidelines for the treatment of diabetes and recommendations for fibre and macronutrient intake under the joint US-Canada DRI system (RDAs) of the National Academy of Sciences. His team was the first to define and explore the concept of the glycaemic index of foods and demonstrate the breadth of metabolic effects of viscous soluble fibre, including blood glucose and cholesterol lowering. His group developed the cholesterol lowering concept of the dietary portfolio that has entered guidelines in many jurisdictions (e.g. CCS, Heart UK etc.). He believes in the therapeutic value of plant based diets and that diets have to be environmentally sustainable.
Robert C. Jones
Robert C. Jones is currently Associate Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Dominguez Hills. His research focuses on the moral significance of animal cognition, critical animal studies, and animal liberation theory and activism through a variety of projects spanning traditional and novel areas of ethics, social justice, and food ethics. Dr. Jones has published numerous articles and book chapters on animal ethics, is a co-author of Chimpanzee Rights (2018), and has given over fifty talks on animal liberation, anti-speciesism, and human supremacy. Dr. Jones earned a PhD in philosophy from Stanford University and is a first generation college student who hails from Philadelphia.
Tony Juniper is Chair of Natural England and a Fellow with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. Before Joining Natural England he was the Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF-UK and President of the Wildlife Trusts. Tony speaks and writes widely on conservation and sustainability themes and is the author of many books, including the multi-award winning bestseller What has Nature ever done for us? (2013). Tony began his career as an ornithologist, working with Birdlife International. From 1990 he worked at Friends of the Earth, initially leading the campaign for the tropical rainforests, and from 2003–2008 was the organisation’s executive director. From 2000–2008 he was Vice Chair of Friends of the Earth International. Tony was the first recipient of the Charles and Miriam Rothschild medal (2009) and was awarded honorary Doctor of Science degrees from the Universities of Bristol and Plymouth (2013). In 2017 he was appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).
Amir Kassam (Bio in About the Editors below…)
Laila Kassam (Bio in About the Editors below…)
Shireen is a Consultant Haematologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer at King’s College Hospital, London, UK with a specialist interest in the treatment of patients with lymphoma. She qualified as a medical doctor in 2000, training first in General Medicine and then specialising in Haematology, achieving Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath; 2008). During training, Shireen completed a PhD (University of London, 2011). Her research investigated the role of selenium, an essential micronutrient, in sensitising cancer cells to chemotherapy.
Shireen founded plant-based health professionals UK in 2017, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to provide evidence-based education on whole food plant-based nutrition for preventing and treating chronic disease. Since then she has been appointed as Visiting Professor of Plant-Based Nutrition at Winchester University and provides the UK’s only University course on plant-based nutrition. Shireen is a board certified Lifestyle Medicine physician with the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine.
Dr. Zahra Kassam is a radiation oncologist at the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre in Ontario, Canada, and an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Toronto. Zahra received her medical degree from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in 1995, completed her specialist training in Clinical Oncology in the UK, followed by 3 years of clinical and research fellowship training at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Canada, with a Masters in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. Her areas of clinical practice are in gastrointestinal and breast cancers. Zahra is a board certified Lifestyle Medicine physician with the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine. In 2019, she co- founded Plant-Based Canada with the mission to promote plant-based whole food nutrition that is sustainable and the healthiest possible, and which promotes the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants.
Mark Langan is a senior lecturer in international politics at Newcastle University. He is particularly interested in EU relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, with a focus on Economic Partnership Agreements and Aid for Trade. He is the author of the recently published Neo-Colonialism and the Poverty of ‘Development’ in Africa (with Palgrave).
Jonathan R Latham, PhD is co-founder and Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project and the Editor of Independent Science News. Dr Latham is also the Director of the Poison Papers project which publicizes documents of the chemical industry and its regulators. Dr. Latham holds a Masters degree in Crop Genetics and a PhD in Virology. He was subsequently a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has published scientific papers in disciplines as diverse as plant ecology, plant virology, genetics and genetic engineering. Dr Latham talks frequently at international events and scientific and regulatory conferences on the research conducted by the Project. He has written for Truthout, MIT Technology Review, the Guardian, Resilience, Salon.com, and many other magazines and websites.
Jim Mason is an author and attorney. His book, The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (co-authored with Peter Singer), explores the ethical questions involved in modern food systems. Mason’s book, An Unnatural Order: The Roots of Our Destruction of Nature (Lantern Books, 2005), traces the making of the ideology of human supremacy. Animal Factories, his 1980 book with Peter Singer, was the first to document in depth how factory farming harms animals, environment, and consumers. He is a contributor to A Cultural History of Animals and The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies. His writings have appeared in Audubon, The New York Times, New Scientist, Newsday, Country Journal, Orion Nature Quarterly, and other publications.
Philip McMichael is a Professor of Global Development at Cornell University. He has authored Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective (Sage, 2017, 6th edition), Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions (Fernwood, 2013), and the award-winning Settlers and the Agrarian Question (Cambridge University Press, 1984), and edited Contesting Development. Critical Struggles for Social Change (Routledge, 2010), and co-edited Finance or Food? The Role of Cultures, Values and Ethics in Land Use Negotiations, with Hilde Bjørkhaug, and Bruce Muirhead (University of Toronto Press, 2020). He has served as President of the Sociology of Food & Agriculture Research Committee of the International Rural Sociological Association (1998-2002), works with the Civil Society Mechanism in the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), and has consulted with UNRISD, the FAO, and IPES, and collaborated with La Vía Campesina and the IPC for Food Sovereignty.
David R. Montgomery
David R. Montgomery is a MacArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington. He studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies. An author of award-winning popular-science books, he has been featured in documentary films, network and cable news, and on a wide variety of TV and radio programs. His books have been translated into nine languages. He lives in Seattle with his wife, and co-author, Anne Biklé.
Patrick Mulvany is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience of Coventry University and a member of the UK’s Food Ethics Council. His work focuses on policy and practice to realise food sovereignty, enhance agricultural biodiversity and agroecology, and the related issues of the governance of food, environment and technology. He was formerly the senior policy adviser to Practical Action/ITDG and Co-chair of the UK Food Group and the NGO Committee of the CGIAR; and was an NGO member of IAASTD’s governing bureau, FAO’s Technical Advisory Group for the State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, and BBSRC’s Bioscience for Society Strategy panel. He’s been active in the civil society lobbies on agricultural biodiversity at FAO and the CBD as well as in the international, regional and national food sovereignty networks, including the Agricultural Biodiversity working group of the IPC for Food Sovereignty.
Nassim Nobari is the co-founder and director of Seed the Commons. She holds a masters in psychology from the University of Lausanne, where she focused on the social representations of food and the ways in which social identity impacts meat and milk consumption. After her studies, she worked at several human rights NGOs in Geneva and started volunteering with La Via Campesina as a translator and interpreter. In 2005, Nassim opened the first vegan restaurant in the Lemanic Arc–an activist project in a squatted building. Alarmed at the increasing legitimization of animal agriculture by the food movement, in 2009 she co-founded Seed the Commons to help build just and sustainable food systems without animal exploitation. Through the creation of platforms for veganic farmers as well as public education and outreach, Seed the Commons has been key in popularizing veganic agriculture and building the movement for a veganic food system.
Helena Norberg-Hodge is a pioneer of the new economy movement and recipient of the Alternative Nobel prize, the Arthur Morgan Award and the Goi Peace Prize for contributing to “the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide.” She is author of the inspirational classic Ancient Futures, and Local is Our Future (2019), and producer of the award-winning documentary The Economics of Happiness. The impact of the global market on food and farming has been a focus of Helena’s work for almost 40 years, including two books (From the Ground Up: Rethinking Industrial Agriculture and Bringing the Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness, as well as a Local Food Toolkit, which won a prestigious UK award for investigative journalism.
Helena is the founder and director of Local Futures and The International Alliance for Localisation, and a founding member of the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture, the International Forum on Globalization and the Global Ecovillage Network.
Sophia Price is a principal lecturer in politics at Leeds Beckett University. She is particularly interested in the political economy of development with regards to EU relations with developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific. She is additionally interested in critical examination of the impact of disciplinary neoliberalism with particular consideration of gender inequalities.
Dr Vandana Shiva trained as a Physicist. In 1982 she founded an independent institute, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun, which is dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times. In 1991 she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seeds. Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Her books, ‘The Violence of Green Revolution’ and ‘Monocultures of the Mind’, have become basic challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, reductionist agricultural practices. Dr. Shiva is a Founding Board Member of many important organizations such as the International Forum on Globalisation and Diverse Women for Diversity. Time Magazine identified her as an environmental hero in 2003. She received the Right Livelihood Award in 1993 and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.
Colin Tudge is a biologist by education and a writer by trade – mainly of books, and mainly on natural history, evolution, genetics, the philosophy of science, and on food and agriculture. He has a lifelong interest in food and farming and is co-founder of the Campaign for Real Farming, which includes the College for Enlightened Agriculture in virtual form; the Oxford Real Farming Conference; and the Fund for Enlightened Agriculture. His immediate ambition to help to find a permanent, bricks-and-mortar home for the College to promote a new kind of farming and help to create a new generation of farmers. His latest book, The Great Re-Think, should be published later this year.
Allison K Wilson, PhD is co-founder and Science Director of the Bioscience Resource Project; Editor of the Bioscience Resource Project website; Assistant Editor of Independent Science News; and a contributor to the Poison Papers project. Dr. Wilson holds a BA in Biology from Cornell University, a doctorate in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Indiana University, Bloomington, and was formerly a postdoctoral research associate at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle and the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK. Dr. Wilson has published scientific research on plant hormones and flowering time in Arabidopsis, Tetrahymena molecular biology, and plant genetic engineering. She was also a contributing author to the Encyclopedia of Molecular Biology (John Wiley and Sons Inc., 1999).
About the Editors
Prof. Amir Kassam OBE, FRSB, PhD
Amir Kassam is Visiting Professor in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, UK, where he teaches Agriculture and Development. He is the Moderator of the FAO-hosted Global Platform for Conservation Agriculture Community of Practice (CA-CoP) and Chairman of the International Conservation Agriculture Advisory Panel for Africa. Born in Tanzania, Amir has a BSc (Hons) in Agriculture and PhD in Agroecology (University of Reading), and MSc in Irrigation (University of California-Davis). Amir is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (UK). He has published widely. In 2005, Amir was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Honours List for services to tropical agriculture and to rural development. Amir’s former positions include: Deputy Director General (Programme) at the Africa Rice Centre, CGIAR; Interim Executive Secretary of the CGIAR Science Council; and Chairman of the: Aga Khan Foundation (UK); Focus Humanitarian Assistance Europe Foundation; and Tropical Agriculture Association, UK.
Laila Kassam, PhD
Laila Kassam is a development economist and has worked in the international development sector since 2003. She has worked with NGOs, foundations, government ministries and international research and development institutions (including the CGIAR and FAO) focusing on rural development in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Laila is co-founder and Mission Lead of Animal Think Tank, UK. She currently works on issues related to agroecology, sustainability, food system transformation, and animal, climate and social justice. Laila Kassam has a BSc (Hons) in Economics and Politics (University of Bristol), an MSc in Development Management (London School of Economics and Political Science) and a PhD in Development Economics (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London). Laila’s previous positions include: Programme Associate for Rural Development for the Aga Khan Foundation (Geneva); Research Officer for the DFID funded Coastal Rural Support Programme (Kenya); and Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Fellow at the Ministry of Agriculture (Guyana).
Review by Robert Brinkman, former Director of Land and Water Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
In 1898, Alfred Russell Wallace published ‘The wonderful century’, describing the increasing wealth of the rich and the increasing numbers of poor people remaining in misery, and ‘…during the whole century, –applying small plasters to each social ulcer as it became revealed to us … ‘The struggle for wealth, and its deplorable results, … accompanied by a reckless destruction of the stored-up products of nature, … irretrievable.’ In the 120 years since Wallace’s prescient warning, scientific knowledge and total wealth vastly increased, but so did the concentration of wealth and power in few hands, the number of poor, the incidence of diseases, damage to the land and to biodiversity,…
Review by Dr Theodore Friedrich, former Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Resident Representative in Bolivia and Cuba
The book is a holistic review of our current food and agriculture systems, discussing the origins, the actual problems, and approaches towards a badly needed sustainability of this issue which is determinant for the survival of humans on our planet. In 20 chapters, written by recognized leading experts and brilliant minds in very different areas related to food and agriculture, the book shows the origins of our food culture, the ethics of our behaviour and the positioning of mankind within nature, the influence of religions, and the developments under different economic systems, starting from colonial times towards our actual globalized food chains. It sheds light on the problems of…
Review by James O’Donovan for The Vegan Society and Vegan Sustainability Magazine
The book highlights the urgent need to ‘rethink’ the food and agriculture system and highlights ‘new ways forward’, including alternative paradigms of agriculture, human nutrition and political economy that are more ethical, sustainable and just. Contributors include Robert Chambers, David Jenkins, Tony Juniper, Dr. Shireen Kassam, David Montgomery, Vandana Shiva and many others. It’s a wonderful contribution to the science and philosophy supporting the urgent need to transition to a non-violent vegan food system and restore a right relationship with ourselves, other species and nature. The book outlines how the multiple health, climate and biodiversity crises we are facing are…
Review by Dr Mark Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, published in Psychology Today
I recently read a most important book edited by Drs. Amir Kassam and Laila Kassam called Rethinking Food and Agriculture: New Ways Forward.1,2 The table of contents and chapter abstracts can be seen here. I fully realize that this landmark book is extremely pricey and I hope most if not all of its 20 chapters will soon become available. One essay that is available that might be of special interest to many readers because of its focus on topics including nonhuman animal (animal) sentience, speciesism, human exceptionalism, and social justice is California State University’s Robert Jones’ piece “Animal ethics as…