York researchers focus on governance and sustainability of Latin American soy

News | Posted on Wednesday 17 April 2019

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at York have conducted research, attended field trips and held workshops to explore the sustainable governance of soy.

Interdisciplinary workshop: Promoting effective sustainability governance in soy (25th March 2019)

For the last 12 months, an interdisciplinary team of researchers at York have been investigating the governance and sustainability of soy - the world’s most globally traded commodity, which is strongly linked to land use change, deforestation and biodiversity loss in Latin America, Brazil in particular. Only a very small proportion of soy is actually consumed directly as food by humans, with approximately four-fifths used to produce animal feed.

The research team at York, whose funders include the UK Global Security Fund, N8 AgriFood and the ESRC, are exploring the barriers to more effective governance of soy, including through third-party certification schemes, like the RTRS and other multi-stakeholder initiatives, like the UK Soy Roundtable and Cerrado Manifesto.

The research involves both quantitative modelling, through SEI and the TRASE platform, and qualitative work utilising theories of ‘sustainability governance’ found in the political, economic and environmental sciences literatures to identify the barriers to more coherent and effective forms of regulation, both public and private.

Team members have carried out a number of field visits to the north, central-west and south of Brazil. In March, York hosted a major international workshop entitled ‘Promoting Effective Sustainability Governance in Soy’. The workshop, held at the Principal Hotel in York city centre, brought together some of the world’s leading scholars from Latin America, China, North America and Europe, alongside soy food systems stakeholders, to share state-of-the-art (predominantly social) scientific research, civil society and industry perspectives. The workshop had a particular focus on EU-Latin American links, which have been central to sustainability governance innovation in the soy space.

The research team are now in the process of setting up a global soy research network, sponsored by YESI, designed to showcase York’s ongoing soy research and to catalyse international collaborations and research networks.    

Author: Prof. Tony Heron, YESI Sustainable Food Research Theme Co-Lead