The Multifaceted Nature of “Food Diversity” as a Life-Related Legal Value

  • Massimo Monteduro
Part of the LITES - Legal Issues in Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies book series (LITES, volume 2)


Positive law thus far has not recognized food diversity as a single and autonomous legal value that transcends its individual dimensions, nor has it prescribed systematic provisions for its general protection. This contribution sets forth the thesis that food diversity, in legal terms, must be considered a synthesis of multiple diversities, meaning, a “value system” where numerous legal values of primary legal status protected at the international, European and constitutional levels converge and are contained as a whole: the environment and biodiversity, local autonomy and territorial differentiation, tangible and intangible cultural landscape and heritage, human health, personal and religious freedom, and the family and its educational choices. The strengths of these basic values aggregate organically, conferring to food diversity, in the writer’s judgement, the highest position in the legal order especially given its close ties to the supreme value of life. Food, in fact, is noteworthy in its dimension as a “binder” that connects the different levels—the individual, the social and the ecological—of biological life. The reciprocal involvement between life and diversity, and between food and life, forcefully exposes the necessity for the safeguard of food diversity as a preconditional and overriding “value of values” that must be legally preserved in its qualitative integrity and passed on to future generations. From this perspective, should an irreconcilable conflict arise between food diversity and economic interests linked to the protection of competition, free enterprise and the market, and should balance not be possible, predominance must be given to the protection of food diversity from threats—deriving from socio-economic dynamics—that can lead to its depletion or disappearance, with a consequent regression of antagonistic interests.


Food diversity Life Social-ecological systems Anthropocene Planetary boundaries Environmental law Biocultural diversity Economic pressures Legal values 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Massimo Monteduro
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Legal StudiesUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly

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