Professor Jules Pretty is an author and academic whose work focuses on sustainable agriculture and the relationship between people and the land. He is on the Steering Committee for a new, ground-breaking report from the Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food (TEEBAgriFood). This report addresses how to evaluate our agriculture and food systems while considering a range of social, human, and environmental dimensions across the value chain.
The goal of TEEBAgriFood is more comprehensively to determine the absolute costs, benefits, and dependencies of agriculture and food production. What makes some produce less expensive in most supermarkets is in part the use of cheap—often subsidized—fertilizers and pesticides, but that retail price does not take into account the hidden costs like environmental damage from runoff or human impacts on life and livelihoods. Conversely, these prices do not recognize the positive benefits created by more sustainable forms of agriculture. If we want accurately to price food, all these side effects, or externalities, need to be accounted for. TEEBAgriFood is creating a framework for assessing all the impacts of food, from farm to fork to disposal, including effects on livelihoods, the environment, and human health. This can help farmers, decision makers, and businesses more accurately look at the impacts of different practices and policies.
Professor Pretty worked for ten years at the International Institute for Environment and Development, where he was director of their sustainable agriculture program. In 1997, he joined the University of Essex in the U.K., where he set up the Centre for Environment and Society. He is currently Professor of Environment and Society and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Essex. He received a 1997 award from the Indian Ecological Society, was appointed A D White Professor-at-Large by Cornell University from 2001, and is Chief & Founding Editor of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.
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