September 8, 2019 - Caroline
RPP #2: Mentor Meeting
I met with Dr. Ken Conca on Friday, September 6th. We talked for a little over half an hour about my research interests and how we could work together as my project evolves.
We spent some time discussing the research process as a whole—his advice being to come up with a plan but be ready to scrap that plan—something that I had experienced firsthand in my research project last semester. I told Dr. C about my concern that my initial topic for Olson was too specific and that I am looking to broaden it. He was both extremely understanding and helpful about the different paths my project could take. While still centering the conversation around pesticide use, he gave me three broad suggestions. The first was to look at the regulatory framework of international law. He explained three international conventions and their resulting agreements on the use and disposal of hazardous chemicals (including some pesticides)—Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm. Despite their existence, however, problems often arise concerning coherence among the three, so there is a need for more coordination for signatory countries to effectively follow them all simultaneously.
His second suggestion was to look at the commodity chains of a few pesticides from “cradle to grave” to better understand how parts of them (like corporate practices) could be regulated. By mapping out a few “pesticide chains” I believe I could gain a better understanding of both the legal framework and activist strategies surrounding their use. His third suggestion was what I had initially looked at (and discussed in RPP #1) on individual rights and pesticide use.
Because I had been planning on focusing on the use of banned pesticides at the level of individual consumption, Dr. C’s other two suggestions were a great start to figuring out my next steps. I’m learning about the theories and concepts surrounding “green capitalism” in my Environmental Sustainability and Global Health class, so I would like to explore how power in the hands of a few multinational corporations affects the enforcement of regulatory tools like the aforementioned treaties and how that power can be challenged. A major next step for my project will be learning more about the criteria of these treaties and certain countries’ stances on them. I might end up looking at a few countries who are bound by all three. Dr. C told me about several databases where I can research the details of the chemical convention agreements, along with watchdog sites to see how well countries and companies are following them.
Overall, our meeting went well and I look forward to meeting with Dr. Conca again!