Script and production: Laryssa Asano, Neto Garcia, João Saldanha, Oscar Freitas Neto

Voice: João Saldanha

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Every day, we consume food offered in different points-of-sale – supermarkets, restaurants, street markets. But have you ever thought of all the way the food traveled to reach your table?

Every food has a unique story. Who produced it? How? What were the labor conditions? Were agrochemicals properly handled? Or weren’t agrochemicals used at all?

Thus, social and environmental certifications emerged, trying to answer those questions. Labels aim at ensuring best practices in production, all the way from social to environmental aspects.

They can, for instance, ensure there were no unhealthy conditions affecting workers during production. Or ensure food production complies with practices that do not degrade the environment.

One of the most famous certifications is the organic product certification. You must have seen the label in some products. There are two ways to get the label. You may get it through an audit conducted by companies or NGOs. Or through PGS, a Participatory Guarantee System, which establishes mutual supervision.

But access to certifications is not so easy, specially for smallholders. Conducting an audit costs money, and even an inclusive system like PGS may generate a lot of red tape and paperwork.

In this context, blockchain, a new technology, emerges with the potential to solve some of those problems. Blockchain was created based on the operation of bitcoin cryptocurrency. In that case, transactions would no longer be checked in a central institution, like a bank, but rather distributed to all users. It works as a ledger and everyone has a copy of it.

Adopting rules agreed by everybody and using encryption techniques, different users add information in blocks that connect to one another. Blockchain provides enhanced security to the process, as data entered into the chain becomes immutable.

The information can be accessed for verification, which provides transparency, traceability and greater confidence. Security, transparency, traceability and confidence are key for certifications.

Can that new technology help consumers get closer to the entire chain and help smallholders get closer to certifications? What are the limitations and the challenges to implement it?

The com.fiar team, from the Integrated Education for Sustainability class, at FGVces, was challenged to investigate possible uses of blockchain for social and environmental certifications that will facilitate access of small businesses to the market. Stay tuned to the results in this P22_ON edition.


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