Open Letter to UN Agencies

Leading researchers have sent a letter to UN agencies dealing with issues related to work in the food system to call for a new positive vision for the future of work in this sector.

The letter calls for a positive vision for food work and outlines nine principles for such a vision (below). The letter comes at a time when a lot of focus is given to agri-tech innovations while the everyday challenges faced by food and farm workers and growers are often overlooked. The vision outlined in the principles calls for technology to be used where it assists workers. The example given in the letter is of table top strawberry picking which avoids workers needing to stoop down.

This is also a moment in which the role of food workers is being re-considered in the wake of them being recognised as essential workers during the COVID 19 pandemic. The letter calls for all food work to be recognised as skilled and valuable and for it to therefore be well paid and personally fulfilling for workers. The moment to address this call to UN agencies is ripe because 2021 has been declared the International Year of Fruit and Vegetables by the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The twenty-five original signatories of the letter include academics who have been researching in this area for decades such as Professor Julie Guthman, and campaigner Vicki Hird from FARM Campaign, Sustain. The letter was collaboratively written by the co-organisers of an event in May 2021, Dr Hannah Pitt, Dr Lydia Medland, Susanna Klassen and Dr Poppy Nicol and the participants of the event were all invited to edit a draft of the letter and principles prior to it being finalised.

To sign and support the open letter and this initiative please follow this link.

To download a PDF copy of the letter, click here.

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