There is a disconnect between price and value in our food systems. Encompassing the biodiversity and beauty of nature, the welfare and happiness of animals and the social and cultural activities associated with agricultural communities, we value things far beyond the commodity price of food. But these things rarely have an obvious economic value, and tend to fall outside of our accounting system. This session explores whether it is possible to put a price on aspects of the food system that do not traditionally have an economic value, and whether this is a useful or desirable way forward. Because, while economics remains the currency of policy, we must not lose sight of the fact that economics is a means and not an end.
Chaired by Owsley Brown III, Director of Sustainable Food Alliance, a diverse range of speakers address key issues associated with agriculture and economics. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California, begins by asking what provokes us to want to place a value on something? Pavan Suhkdev, TEEB, talks about how economics can be utilised to redress the distorted environment in which farmers operate. Paul Shapiro, Humane Society of the United States, shows how there are real economic consequences to ignoring consumer interest in animal welfare. Finally, author and economist, John Ikerd, voices concerns about the use of economics and challenges us to prioritise social and ethical values.
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