Workpackages and Objectives

To assess the potential for sustainable transformation, alternative policies and practices in Swiss agriculture, we conduct inter- and transdisciplinary research in five different workpackages (WP) and integrate expertise from environmental science and chemistry, agricultural economics, health sciences, decision-analysis, and social and political sciences.

We first systematically identify different sources and types of evidence (from natural, social and health sciences, and economics; about agricultural practices, specific plant protection products, and policies) and how they (un)successfully entered different arenas (academia, media, farming, and politics) in the past.

We also control for other context factors and external events that might have impacted change in how pesticides were used and regulated (WP2).

In parallel, and through an epidemiological study of pesticide exposure in cohorts of farming and rural non-faming families, levels of pesticide exposure and associated health effects are assessed (WP3).

From systematic evidence and new data obtained in WP2 and WP3, different information treatments (human- and ecotoxicology of selected substances; effectiveness of selected farm practices and policies) are designed and provided to different selected stakeholder groups and survey partners (WP4): farmers and the rural population, political elite, and selected stakeholders along agricultural production and food value chains.

For example, participants of the epidemiological study (WP3) will be confronted with their pesticide exposure level for subsequently determining whether this personalized evidence can trigger behavior change.

WP1 and WP5 embrace the whole project, and all researchers will jointly develop an interdisciplinary framework of science integration and engage in transdisciplinary methods of stakeholder involvement.

The ultimate objective is to assess the potential for sustainable transformation in Swiss agriculture in order to internalize negative externalities that stem from pesticide use.

This is achieved through the ongoing synthesis procedure and via three concrete research objectives:

  1. Targeted evidence:
    evidence pathways and what type of evidence triggers selected stakeholders attitudes;
  2. Reduction of sectoral trade-offs:
    a sound set of within- and across-sectoral and feasible policy and management options in pesticide regulation and practices, identified in focus groups, through modelling and multi-criteria decision-analysis;
  3. Assessment of innovation potential:
    the potential for risk-minimized pesticide use strategies in future Swiss agriculture and under different scenarios.