“Regenerative agriculture” is a label given to a bundle of farming methods said to be better than conventional (“industrial”) farming, not only for soil health and planetary health, but also for human health. Some of these methods are clearly good for protecting the soil, but these have long been underutilized by many large commercial farms. The claim that regenerative methods can also benefit the climate and human health is more difficult to verify.


Robert Paarlberg, PhD is an Associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center and also an Associate in the Sustainability Science Program at HKS. He has been an adjunct professor of public policy at the Kennedy School and is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College. He received his PhD in International Relations from Harvard University. His specialty is international food and agricultural policy. Dr. Paarlberg is the author of six university press books, including one on agricultural technology in Africa (Starved for Science, Harvard University Press, 2008), another on America’s overconsumption of both food and fuel (The United States of Excess, Oxford, 2015), and most recently a 2021 book from Knopf titled Resetting the Table: Straight Talk About the Food we Grow and Eat (a Nautilus Book Award winner in 2022). He has been a member of the Board of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the National Research Council of the National Academies, and the Board of Directors of Winrock International, and has worked in Africa and South Asia as a consultant to the International Food Policy Research Institute, USAID, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Aspen Institute, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Paarlberg recently chaired the independent steering committee for a CGIAR research program, Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). His current research is focused on adaptation to climate change and sea-level rise in West Africa. On six different occasions he has testified to Congress. He lives in Watertown, MA, with his wife Marianne.

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