What would happen, for example, in various European countries if the EU were to eliminate its subsidies for sugar or grain? How would various countries be affected if tariffs were removed for agricultural products from the Third World? Today there are no models to perform such analyses of the consequences of different decisions.
“Three years ago, working with colleagues from the Netherlands and Germany, we started to set up guidelines for a research project to develop the necessary models. At the time many people thought the whole idea was highly unrealistic, considering the many strains within EU agricultural policy.
“But now everybody seems to have recognized that the current subsidies are untenable and that change is overdue. This means that our research project can now almost be seen as having been made to order for the EU Commission,” says Professor Lennart Olsson.
Lennart Olsson directs LUCSUS, Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies. LUCSUS is an interdisciplinary research team from the Department of Social and Economic Geography and the Department of Chemical Engineering, and they have been charged with maintaining contact with the EU Commission, national authorities, and various agricultural interests. They are also responsible for the overarching structure of the complex computer-based planning models that are to be developed.
The research project is called SEAMLESS and comprises 31 research teams (agronomists, economists, geographers, computer scientists, mathematicians, etc.) from 15 countries. The project has a budget of more than SEK 100 million and is slated to take four years. The consortium of research groups is led by Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
SEAMLESS is being launched at a major gathering of scientists on January 25–28 in Lund, Sweden.