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Klara Fischer

Klara Fischer
Food production is at the same time central to humanity and intimately connected with many of the serious challenges to global climate and ecologies. My research interests concern how ideas and practices regarding today's sustainability challenges in food production and natural resource management are negotiated and turned into practice, and in particular how marginalised groups are affected.


I see the debate on GM crops, which is a central theme in my research, as a useful lens through which to analyse the tensions in society about what sustainability and sustainable food production is about, for whom and how. Other focus areas for my research are e.g.
- material effects and situated knowledges of animal disease and how these local practices and knowledges interact with formal knowledge systems and interventions,
- negotiations on sustainable development in climate forestry investments, and
-the role given to biotechnology in discourses about the future of Swedish farming and forestry .

While technologies like commodified carbon or biotechnology are not inherently positive or negative, they have often become tools for disguising disagreements about how sustainable development should proceed. In studying such hidden disagreements, I want to keep an eye out for the effects for marginalised groups and  ‘nature’, e.g. through visualising how biodiversity and local people’s livelihoods today often are undermined in the quest for global carbon emission reductions. In studying conflicting perspectives and material impacts relating to new technologies and ‘sustainable development’, political ecology, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and ‘Social Shaping of Technology’ (SST) have provided useful analytical frames for me.


I have a MSc  in Biology/Nature conservation from Lund University and a PhD in Rural development studies from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU.

Selected publications

(NB! I changed my surname from Jacobson to Fischer in 2014).

Fischer, K. and F. Hajdu (2017). The importance of the will to improve: how ‘sustainability’sidelined local livelihoods in a carbon-forestry investment in Uganda. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 1-14. doi: 10.1080/1523908X.2017.1410429

Slätmo, E., Fischer, K. & Röös, E. (2017) The framing of sustainability in sustainability assessment frameworks for agriculture. Sociologica Ruralis 57: 3, 378–395, doi: 10.1111/soru.12156 

Hajdu, F., Penje, O and Fischer K (2016) Questioning the use of ‘degradation’ in climate mitigation: A case study of a forest carbon CDM project in Uganda, Land Use Policy, 59: 412–422.

Bøhn, T., Aheto, D. W., Mwangala, F. S., Fischer, K., Bones I. L., Simoloka, C. Mbeule, I., Schmidt, G., Breckling, B. (2016) Pollen-mediated gene flow and seed exchange in small-scale Zambian maize farming, implications for biosafety assessment, Scientific Reports 6 (34483). doi:10.1038/srep34483

Fischer, K., Hajdu, F.; Giertta, F.K. (2016) Commentary on the paper by Lyons and Westoby “Carbon colonialism and the new land grab: Plantation forestry in Uganda and its livelihood impacts”. Journal of Rural Studies, 47 (Part A): 267–268,

Fischer, K., Eriksson, C. (2016) Social Science Studies on European and African Agriculture Compared: Bringing Together Different Strands of Academic Debate on GM Crops. Sustainability, 8(9), 865.

Fischer, K. Chenais, E.; Torsson, E.; Wensman, J.J. (2016) Where is the Participation in Participatory Epidemiology? How Engagement with Social Science could lead to Improved Understanding and Control of Peste des Petits Ruminants. British Journal of Virology 3, 105-114.

Hajdu, F and K. Fischer (2016) Problems, causes and solutions in the forest carbon discourse: a framework for analyzing degradation narratives, Climate and Development,

Fischer, K. (2016) Why new crop technology is not scale-neutral—A critique of the expectations for a crop-based African Green Revolution. Research Policy, 45(6): 1185-1194.

Fischer, K.; Ekener-Petersen, E.; Rydhmer, L.; Björnberg, K.E. (2015) Social impacts of GM crops in agriculture: A systematic literature review. Sustainability 7, 8598-8620.

Fischer, K.; Hajdu, F. (2015) Does raising maize yields lead to poverty reduction? A case study of the massive food production programme in South Africa. Land Use Policy, 46, 304-313.

Fischer, K., Van Den Berg, J. and Mutengwa, C. (2015). "Is Bt maize effective in improving South African smallholder agriculture?" South African Journal of Science 111(1-2): 15-16.

Iversen, M., Grønsberg, I. M, Van Den Berg, J., Fischer, K., Aheto, D W., Bøhn, T.(2014). Detection of Transgenes in Local Maize Varieties of Small-Scale Farmers in Eastern Cape, South Africa. PloS one 9(12): 116-147.

Jacobson, K. (2013). The massive food production programme: A case study of agricultural policy continuities and changes. In: Hebinck, P. & Cousins, B. (Eds.) In the shadow of policy: Everyday practice in South Africa’s land and agrarian reform. Johannesburg/Leiden: Wits University Press/Brill Academic Publishers.

Jacobson, K. (2013). From Betterment to Bt maize: Agricultural Development and the Introduction of Genetically Modified Maize to South African Smallholders Diss. Uppsala: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Jacobson, K. & Myhr, A.I. (2013). GM Crops and Smallholders: Biosafety and Local Practice. The Journal of Environment & Development 22(1), 104 - 124.

Hajdu, F ., Jacobson, K., Salomonsson, L., Friman, E. (2012) ‘But Tractors can’t fly…’ A Transdisciplinary Analysis Of Neoliberal Agricultural Development Interventions, International Journal of Transdisciplinary Research, 6 ( 1), 24-64.

Jacobson K. (2009) ‘The mismatch between smallholder realities and agricultural development interventions: from ‘Betterment’ to the Massive Food Production Programme’ in: Guyot S. and J. Dellier Rethinking the Wild Coast, South Africa: Eco-frontiers vs livelihoods in Pondoland, Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag.

Alarcón, C., D. Bergquist, E. Bjureby, E. Friman, G. Gallardo, F. Hajdu, K. Jacobson, S. Johansson, C. Lagerberg Fogelberg, T. Rydberg (2008). “Understanding Global Patterns of Production and Consumption: Prospects of an Interdisciplinary Approach” in: B. 

Frostell, Å. Danielsson, L. Hagberg, B.-O. Linnér, E. Lisberg Jensen (eds). Science for Sustainable Development - The Social Challenge with emphasis on conditions for change, Proceedings from the 2nd VHU Conference Linköping 6-7 September 2007, Uppsala: VHU, p 15-21




Researcher at the Department of Urban and Rural Development; Division of Rural Development
Telephone: 018-671771
Postal address:
Inst för stad och land, Box 7012
Visiting address: Ulls väg 27, Uppsala