Agriculture and Sustainable Development

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
There is an apparent conflict between the need to produce enough food for a growing global population and to ensure that the production of food is sustainable. Increased production requires technologies (agrochemicals, GMO, hormones, anti-biotics) and possibly increased land for agricultural production rather than forestry or even production of biofuels.

The object of this course is to examine how the law regulating the production of food emerges from these tensions and the current debates on reform are shaped. The students will be asked to examine these inherent conflicts and to determine the extent to which agricultural production can be changed to ensure sustainability both in the sense of the production of sufficient food and in the protection of the environment.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course the students should be able to understand both sides of the tension between environmental sustainability and foods production sustainability. The student will be get the knowledge to be able to access the right information to go beyond the lectures and into the hard decision making that is currently underway. The student should then be in a position to contribute to the debate in an informed way.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester

Classes will be delivered in distance learning modality. They will be live-streamed on Microsoft Teams, following the lessons timetable. All classes will be recorded and will be available on the online platform until the end of the semester.

Students will be informed as soon as possible, through the ARIEL website of the Course, if there will be a possibility to attend in person some classes at the University premises. This possibility will depend upon the evolution of the emergency and related safety measures, and the needs and preferences of students. In this case, students willing to attend classes will be required to reserve their seat through the LezioniUnimi app ( Home > study > bachelor-and-master-study > following-your-programme-of-study >. Strict compliance with the COVID protocol (facemask-wearing, social distancing, hands disinfection, etc.) will be required in the classrooms and all the University premises. In any case, all classes will be live-streamed and recorded and will be available on the online platform, in order to meet the needs of those unable or unwilling to attend in person.

The course will alternate and combine lectures and seminar teaching and will be tailored to match the learning necessities of students attending physically and remotely alike. Classes may require prior readings and include pre-recorded components.

To cope with possible connection and/or time zone issues, simultaneous course attendance (i.e. connection on the platform at the scheduled time) will not be mandatory. However, the Course will be based on class interaction. Therefore, students are strongly advised to strive to be able to attend the online classes.

The course programme is unchanged. However, the specific contents of classes will adapt to the teaching methods outlined above.

Reference materials for each class will be adjusted to the distance learning modality and uploaded to the Ariel course website.

Assessment methods will not change, except that oral and written exam may take place by remote through distance learning platforms (Microsoft Teams for oral exams and for written exams). Instructions will be posted on the ARIEL website of the course.
In case the possibility of exams in persons will be reinstated at the material time, students unable to be physically present will be offered an alternative method from distance.
Course syllabus
Part I - The EU approach: the CAP, safety, labelling, quality and new trends

The EU's common agricultural policy (CAP):

i) moving from the promotion of quantity, through the reforms starting in 1992 and up to 2020, to the promotion of quality;
ii) the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and its influence on EU agricultural policy;
iii) how the current farm payment systems seek to protect the environment and achieve sustainability;
iv) competition rules in agriculture, unfair trading practices and short supply chains;
v) agriculture and climate change;
vi) the Farm to Fork strategy.

The Health and Safety of agriculture and foodstuffs in the EU:

i) the General Food Law (Regulation 178/2002): definitions, principles, risk assessment and management;
ii) the Hygiene of Foodstuffs (Regulation 852/2004): hazard analysis at critical control points (HACCP);
iii) the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission;
iv) genetically modified organisms;
v) hormones and anti-biotics in animal farming;
vi) glyphosate.

Labelling and consumer protection:

i) the general rules on the labelling of foodstuffs (Regulation 1169/2011);
ii) the origin of primary ingredient (Regulation 775/2018);
iii) health and labels: traffic light labelling and nutri-score;
iv) highly processed foods with zero calories and high fat Mediterranean foods;
v) the labelling of sustainability, the role of private actors.

The EU's Quality Policy:

i) Protected Geographical Indications, Protected Designations of Origin and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed;
ii) the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights TRIPs Agreement) and the protection of geographical indications (GIs);
iii) the protection of GIs in Free Trade Agreements.

New perspectives: novel food, insects and nutraceuticals:

i) insects as food: the novel food regulation;
ii) Insects as pollinators: bees and pesticides;
iii) nutraceutical, blurring the line between food and pharma.

Part II - The international perspective: trade and human rights

Trade in foodstuffs:

i) compliance with EU food standards;
ii) controls on the import of foodstuffs;
iii) conflicts between standards: the failed EU/US trade agreement - TTIP, the EU vs the China model;
iv) ethics in trade: free trade and public morals: the EU seals case;
v) the next phase: commodities (soya, palm oil etc.) associated with deforestation;
vi) the effects of Covid-19 on trading agri-food products.

Food Sovereignty and food security:

i) the right to food and the evolution of this concept;
ii) traditional concepts of food sovereignty;
iii) food security and poverty;
iv) food security and food waste;
v) foreign direct investment and food security (Regulation 2019/452).

Concluding discussions:

i) is meat eating sustainable?
ii) What is sustainable agriculture?
iii) How do we feed 9 billion?
iv) Which are the roles of different actors in the supply chain?
Prerequisites for admission
The course will be taught in English.
It is not a precondition that the students have a background in the law. However, there will be references to law and policy throughout the course.
The Professor is Bernard O'Connor, a native English speaker, a lawyer practicing in Milan and Brussels. Consultations with students will be by email:
Teaching methods
Attendance at lectures is mandatory. Students who do not attend at a minimum of 75% of the lectures will not be entitled to sit the exam.
Teaching Resources
Materials will be provided prior to the lectures.
Assessment methods and Criteria
There will be a written exam at the end of the course which will be in essay format but with open access to information during the exam.
IUS/13 - INTERNATIONAL LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 42 hours
Professor: O'Connor Bernard
with an appointment
with an appointment