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Dr Les Levidow

Les Levidow

Profile summary

  • Senior Research Fellow
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Social Sciences & Global Studies
  • Development
  • l.levidow

Professional biography

B.A., Biology, University of Rochester,1972.

M.A., Biology, Temple University, Philadelphia, 1974.

PhD, Technology Policy, The Open University, 1995.

Research Fellow at The Open University since 1989.

Managing Editor of Science as Culture since its inception in 1987; Editor since 2005.

Research interests

Controversial agricultural technologies, especially agbiotech and bioenergy, as well as alternatives to agri-industrial systems.  These topics provide case studies for several policy-relevant issues: agri-environmental sustainability, European integration, trade conflicts, governance, public participation, regulatory science, the precautionary principle and eco-efficiency. 

Project funding has come from the European Commission and the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).   For a list of past projects, research reports and downloadable papers on agricultural biotechnology, see the Biotechnology Policy Group webpages at

Research projects:

‘Increasing energy yield from the integration of anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis’, funded by the EPSRC Supergen Bioenergy programme, 2013-16, coordinated by Aston University. 

‘Ecowater: Meso-level eco-efficiency indicators to assess technologies and their uptake in water use sectors’, funded by the European Commission during 2011-14, coordinated by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). Project website:

 ‘Knowledge Production for Sustainable Bioenergy: An analysis of UK decision processes and priorities, funded by the ESRC during 2011-12,

'Co-operative Research on Environmental Problems in Europe (CREPE)’

Publicity Leaflet

Project website:

‘Facilitating Alternative Agro-food Networks (FAAN): Stakeholder Perspectives on Research Needs’

Project website:

 ‘Land-use, biofuels and agri-biotechnology’

Consultancy funded in early 2008 by the Wissenschaftlichen Beirats Globale Umweltveränderungen (WBGU), the Advisory Council on Global Change, Berlin.


Metamorphosing waste as a resource: Scaling waste management by ecomodernist means (2019-01)
Levidow, Les and Raman, Sujatha
Geoforum, 98 (pp. 108-122)
UK farmers’ transition pathways towards agroecological farm redesign: evaluating explanatory models (2019)
Padel, Susanne; Levidow, Les and Pearce, Bruce
Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems ((Early Access))
London’s Urban Agriculture: Building Community through Social Innovation (2018-09)
Levidow, Les
International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, 24(3) (pp. 354-376)
Which inclusive innovation? Competing normative assumptions around social justice (2018)
Levidow, Les and Papaioannou, Theo
Innovation and Development, 8(2) (pp. 209-226)
Linking the multi-level perspective with social representations theory: Gasifiers as a niche innovation reinforcing the energy-from-waste (EfW) regime (2017-07)
Levidow, Les and Upham, Paul
Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 120 (pp. 1-13)
Innovating thermal treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW): Socio-technical change linking expectations and representations (2017-04)
Levidow, Les and Upham, Paul
Science and Public Policy, 44(2) (pp. 211-224)
Policy-driven, narrative-based evidence-gathering: UK priorities for decarbonisation through biomass (2016-02-01)
Levidow, Les and Papaioannou, Theo
Science and Public Policy, 43(1) (pp. 46-61)
Process eco-innovation: assessing meso-level eco-efficiency in industrial water-service systems (2016-01-01)
Levidow, Les; Lindgaard-Jørgensen, Palle; Nilsson, Åsa; Skenhall, Sara Alongi and Assimacopoulos, Dionysis
Journal of Cleaner Production, 110 (pp. 54-65)
The rise of flex crops and commodities: implications for research (2016-01-01)
Borras, Saturnino M.; Franco, Jennifer C.; Isakson, S. Ryan; Levidow, Les and Vervest, Pietje
Journal of Peasant Studies, 43(1) (pp. 93-115)
Industry eco-innovation strategies for process upgrading: systemic limits of internalising externalities (2016)
Levidow, Les; Blind, Michiel; Lindgaard-Jørgensen, Palle; Nilsson, Åsa and Skenhall, Sara Alongi
Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 28(2) (pp. 190-204)
Les bioraffineries éco-efficientes. Un techno-fix pour surmonter la limitation des ressources? [Eco-efficient biorefineries: Techno-fix for resource constraints?] (2015-09)
Levidow, Les
Économie rurale, 349-350 (pp. 31-55)
European transitions towards a corporate-environmental food regime: agroecological incorporation or contestation? (2015-08)
Levidow, Les
Journal of Rural Studies, 40 (pp. 76-89)
An ontological politics of comparative environmental analysis: the green economy and local diversity (2015-08)
Forsyth, Tim and Levidow, Les
Global Environmental Politics, 15(3) (pp. 140-151)
Improving water-efficient irrigation: prospects and difficulties of innovative practices (2014-12)
Levidow, Les; Zaccaria, Daniele; Maia, Rodrigo; Vivas, Eduardo; Todorovic, Mladen and Scardigno, Alessandra
Agricultural Water Management, 146 (pp. 84-94)
Prácticas agroecológicas en Europa: ¿alimentado o transformando el régimen agroalimentario predominante? (2014-10)
Levidow, Les; Pimbert, Michel and Vanloqueren, Gaetan
Agricultura y ganadería ecológico(17) (pp. 38-40)
Agroecological research: conforming — or transforming the dominant agro-food regime? (2014-10)
Levidow, Les; Pimbert, Michel and Vanloqueren, Gaetan
Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 38(10) (pp. 1127-1155)
EU research agendas: embedding what future? (2014-09)
Levidow, Les and Neubauer, Claudia
Science as Culture, 23(3) (pp. 397-412)
Eco-efficiency improvements in industrial water-service systems: assessing options with stakeholders (2014-05-19)
Levidow, Les; Lindgaard-Jørgensen, Palle; Nilsson, Åsa; Alongi Skenhall, Sara and Assimacopoulos, Dionysis
Water Science and Technology, 69(10) (pp. 2113-2121)
Fuelling expectations: a policy-promise lock-in of UK biofuel policy (2014-03)
Berti, Pietro and Levidow, Les
Energy Policy, 66 (pp. 135-143)
Self-fulfilling prophecies of the European knowledge-based bio-economy: the discursive shaping of institutional and policy frameworks in the bio-pharmaceuticals sector (2014-03)
Birch, Kean; Levidow, Les and Papaioannou, Theo
Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 5(1) (pp. 1-18)
UK biofuel policy: envisaging sustainable biofuels, shaping institutions and futures (2014-02)
Levidow, Les and Papaioannou, Theo
Environment and Planning A, 46(2) (pp. 280-298)
UK bioenergy innovation priorities: Making expectations credible in state-industry arenas (2014)
Levidow, Les; Borda-Rodriguez, Alexander and Papaioannou, Theo
Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 87 (pp. 191-204)
Engaging cooperative research (2014)
Hincliffe, Steve; Levidow, Les and Oreszczyn, Sue
Environment and Planning A, 46(9) (pp. 2080-2094)
Innovation priorities for UK bioenergy: technological expectations within path dependence (2013-12)
Levidow, Les; Papaioannou, Theo and Borda-Rodriguez, Alexander
Science & Technology Studies, 26(3) (pp. 14-36)
Pratiche agroecologiche in Europa: adeguare o trasformare il sistema agroalimentare? [Agroecological practices in Europe: Conforming – or transforming the dominant agro-food regime?] (2013-11)
Levidow, Les
Bioagricultura(142) (pp. 43-46)
State imaginaries of the public good: shaping UK innovation priorities for bioenergy (2013-06)
Levidow, Les and Papaioannou, Theo
Environmental Science & Policy, 30 (pp. 36-49)
Path-dependent UK bioenergy (2013-05)
Levidow, Les; Papaioannou, Theo and Borda-Rodriguez, Alexander
Science as Culture, 22(2) (pp. 213-221)
Divergent paradigms of European agro-food innovation: the Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy (KBBE) as an R&D agenda (2013-01)
Levidow, Les; Birch, Kean and Papaioannou, Theo
Science, Technology & Human Values, 38(1) (pp. 94-125)
EU criteria for sustainable biofuels: accounting for carbon, depoliticising plunder (2013-01)
Levidow, Les
Geoforum, 44(1) (pp. 211-223)
The bio-economy concept and knowledge base in a public goods and farmer perspective (2012-05)
Schmid, Otto; Padel, Susanne and Levidow, Les
Bio-based and Applied Economics (BAE), 1(1) (pp. 47-63)
EU agri-innovation policy: two contending visions of the bio-economy (2012-04)
Levidow, Les; Birch, Kean and Papaioannou, Theo
Critical Policy Studies, 6(1) (pp. 40-65)
Challenging unsustainable development through research cooperation (2012-01-17)
Levidow, Les and Oreszczyn, Sue
Local Environment, 17(1) (pp. 35-56)
How does the World Trade Organisation know? The mobilization and staging of scientific expertise in the GMO trade dispute (2012)
Bonneuil, Christophe and Levidow, Les
Social Studies of Science, 42(1) (pp. 75-100)
Global agrofuel crops as contested sustainability, Part II: Eco-efficient techno-fixes? (2011-06)
Levidow, Les and Paul, Helena
Capitalism Nature Socialism, 22(2) (pp. 27-51)
Segregating GM crops: why a contentious 'risk' issue in Europe? (2011-06)
Levidow, Les and Boschert, Karin
Science as Culture, 20(2) (pp. 255-279)
Food relocalization for environmental sustainability in Cumbria (2011-04-20)
Levidow, Les and Psarikidou, Katerina
Sustainability, 3(4) (pp. 692-719)
Sustainable capital? The neoliberalization of nature and knowledge in the European “knowledge-based bio-economy” (2010-09)
Birch, Kean; Levidow, Les and Papaioannou, Theo
Sustainability, 2(9) (pp. 2898-2918)
Global agrofuel crops as contested sustainability, Part I: Sustaining what development? (2010-06)
Levidow, Les and Paul, Helena
Capitalism Nature Socialism, 21(2) (pp. 64-86)
Assumptions in the European Union biofuels policy: frictions with experiences in Germany, Brazil and Mozambique (2010)
Franco, Jenny; Levidow, Les; Fig, David; Goldfarb, Lucia; Hönicke, Mireille and Mendonça, Maria Luisa
Journal of Peasant Studies, 37(4) (pp. 661-698)
Democratizing agri-biotechnology? European public participation in agbiotech assessment (2009)
Levidow, Les
Comparative Sociology, 8(4) (pp. 541-564)
Coexistence or contradiction? GM crops versus alternative agricultures in Europe (2008-01)
Levidow, Les and Boschert, Karin
Geoforum, 39(1) (pp. 174-190)
European public participation as risk governance: enhancing democratic accountability for agbiotech policy? (2007-12)
Levidow, Les
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal, 1(1) (pp. 19-51)
Europeanising advisory expertise: The role of 'independent, objective and transparent' scientific advice in agri-biotech regulation (2007-12)
Levidow, Les and Carr, Susan
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 26(6) (pp. 880-895)
GM crops on trial: technological development as a real-world experiment (2007-05)
Levidow, Les and Carr, Susan
Futures, 39(4) (pp. 408-431)
Recasting “Substantial Equivalence”: Transatlantic Governance of GM Food (2007-01)
Levidow, Les; Murphy, Joseph and Carr, Susan
Science, Technology and Human Values, 32(1) (pp. 26-64)
Regulatory standards for environmental risks: understanding the US-European Union conflict over Genetically Modified Crops (2006-02)
Murphy, Joseph; Levidow, Les and Carr, Susan
Social Studies of Science, 36(1) (pp. 133-160)
EU regulation of agri-biotechnology: precautionary links between science, expertise and policy (2005-08)
Levidow, Les; Carr, Susan and Wield, David
Science and Public Policy, 32(4) (pp. 261-276)
Mercantilizando la educación superior: estrategias neoliberales y contra–estrategias (2003-05)
Levidow, Les
Boletin de Educación Superior(14-15) (pp. 4-11)
Industry responses to the European controversy over agricultural biotechnology (2002-08-01)
Levidow, L.; Oreszczyn, S.; Assouline, G. and Joly, P.-B.
Science and Public Policy, 29(4) (pp. 267-275)
Agricultural public-sector research establishments in Western Europe: research priorities in conflict (2002-08-01)
Levidow, L.; Søgaard, V. and Carr, S.
Science and Public Policy, 29(4) (pp. 287-295)
Ignorance-based risk assessment? Scientific controversy over GM food safety (2002-03-01)
Levidow, Les
Science as Culture, 11(1) (pp. 61-67)
Farm inputs under pressure from the European food industry (2002-02)
Levidow, L. and Bijman, J.
Food Policy, 27(1) (pp. 31-45)
Precautionary uncertainty: regulating GM crops in Europe (2001-12)
Levidow, Les
Social Studies of Science, 31(6) (pp. 842-874)
Science and Governance in Europe: lessons from the case of agricultural biotechnology (2001-10-01)
Levidow, L. and Marris, C.
Science and Public Policy, 28(5) (pp. 345-360)
Utilitarian bioethics?: market fetishism in the GM crops debate (2001-04-01)
Levidow, Les
New Genetics and Society, 20(1) (pp. 75-84)
Genetically modified crops in the European Union: regulatory conflicts as precautionary opportunities (2000-07)
Levidow, Les; Carr, Susan and Wield, David
Journal of Risk Research, 3(3) (pp. 189-208)
Regulating biotechnological risk, straining Britain's consultative style (1999-10)
Levidow, Les; Carr, Susan and Wield, David
Journal of Risk Research, 2(4) (pp. 307-324)
European Biotechnology Regulation: Framing the Risk Assessment of a Herbicide-Tolerant Crop (1997-10)
Levidow, Les; Carr, Susan; von Schomburg, Rene and Wield, David
Science, Technology and Human Values, 22(4) (pp. 472-505)
Harmonization Difficulties of Uncertainty-Based Regulation (1996)
Levidow, L.; Carr, S.; Schomburg, R. and Wield, D.
Science and Public Policy, 23(3) (pp. 135-157)
Towards Understanding the Politics of Flex Crops and Commodities: Implications for Research and Policy Advocacy (2014-06)
Borras, Saturnino M.; Franco, Jennifer C.; Isakson, Ryan; Levidow, Les and Vervest, Pietje
Think Piece Series on Flex Crops & Commodities
Publisher : Transnational Institute | Published : Amsterdam
GM food on trial: Testing European democracy (2009)
Levidow, Les and Carr, Susan
Genomics & Society
ISBN : 978-0-415-95541-6 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : New York/London
Governing the Transatlantic conflict over agricultural biotechnology: contending coalitions, trade liberalisation and standard-setting (2006-08-30)
Murphy, Joseph and Levidow, Les
Genetics and Society
ISBN : 041537328X | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK
Transitions towards a European Bioeconomy: Life Sciences versus agroecology trajectories (2019)
Levidow, Les; Nieddu, Martino; Vivian, Franck-Dominque and Béfort, Nicolas
In: Allaire, Gilles and Daviron, Benoit eds. Ecology, Capitalism and the New Agricultural Economy: The Second Great Transformation (pp. 181-203)
ISBN : 9780815381617 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
Sustainable Intensification: Agroecological Appropriation or Contestation? (2018-06-27)
Levidow, Les
In: Constance, Douglas H.; Konefal, Jason T. and Hatanaka, Maki eds. Contested Sustainability Discourses in the Agrifood System. Earthscan Food and Agriculture (pp. 19-41)
ISBN : 9781138063099 | Publisher : Routledge/Earthscan | Published : London
Substituting a fictional ‘science’ for public accountability: legitimacy problems of the EU’s regulatory framework for GM products (2017-09-11)
Levidow, L.
In: Escajedo San-Epifanio, L. ed. Towards a new regulatory framework for GM crops in the European Union: Scientific, ethical, social and legal issues and the challenges ahead (pp. 155-166)
ISBN : 978-90-8686-845-2 | Publisher : Wageningen Academic Publishers
Researching agro-environmental problems with others (2017-09-06)
Oreszczyn, Sue; Levidow, Les and Wield, Dave
In: Oreszczyn, Sue and Lane, Andy eds. Mapping environmental sustainability: reflecting on systemic practices for participatory research (pp. 45-74)
ISBN : 978-1447331575 | Publisher : Policy Press | Published : Bristol
Transition du régime agro-industriel européen vers la bioéconomie : Life Sciences versus Agroécologie (2017-03-02)
Levidow, Les; Nieddu, Martino; Vivien, F. D and Befort, Nicolas
In: Allaire, Gilles and Daviron, Benoit eds. Transformations agricoles et agroalimentaires: Entre écologie et capitalisme. Synthèses
ISBN : 978-2-7592-2614-6 | Publisher : Éditions Quæ | Published : Paris
Neoliberal origins of anti-GM protest in Europe (2015-07-12)
Levidow, Les
In: Macnaghten, Phil and Carro-Ripalda, Susana eds. Governing Agricultural Sustainability: Global Lessons from GM Crops. Pathways to Sustainability (pp. 179-185)
ISBN : 978-1-138-89182-1 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
European Union policy conflicts over agbiotech: ecological modernisation perspectives and critiques (2014)
Levidow, Les
In: Smyth, Stuart J.; Phillips, Peter W. B. and Castle, David eds. Handbook on Agriculture, Biotechnology and Development (pp. 153-165)
ISBN : 9780857938343 | Publisher : Edward Elgar Publishing Limited | Published : Cheltenham
EU regulatory conflicts over GM food: lessons for the future (2014)
Levidow, Les
In: Thompson, Paul B. and Kaplan, David M. eds. Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Food Ethics
Publisher : Springer Science+Business Media | Published : Dordrecht
The 2003-06 WTO GMO dispute: Implications for the SPS Agreement (2013)
Levidow, Les and Bonneuil, Christophe
In: Thompson, Paul B. and Kaplan, David M. eds. Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Food Ethics
Publisher : Springer Reference | Published : Heidelberg
Contending European agendas for agricultural innovation (2012-11)
Levidow, Les
In: Barbier, Marc and Elzen, Boelie eds. System Innovations, Knowledge Regimes and Design Practices towards Transitions for Sustainable Agriculture (pp. 171-192)
ISBN : 2-7380-1306-6 | Publisher : INRA | Published : Paris, France
Neoliberalising technoscience and environment: EU policy for competitive, sustainable biofuels (2012-09)
Levidow, Les; Papaioannou, Theo and Birch, Kean
In: Pellizzoni, Luigi and Ylönen, Marja eds. Neoliberalism and Technoscience. Theory, Technology and Society (pp. 159-186)
ISBN : 978-1-4094-3532-7 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Farnham
Generating regulatory futures: From agbiotech blockages to a bioeconomy? (2012-04-06)
Levidow, Les
In: Howlett, Michael and Laycock, David eds. Regulating Next Generation Agri-Food Biotechnologies: Lessons from European, North American and Asian Experiences. Genetics and Society (pp. 15-33)
ISBN : 9780415693615 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK
Making local food sustainable in Manchester (2012-03-22)
Levidow, Les and Psarikidou, Katerina
In: Viljoen, Andre and Wiskerke, Johannes S. C. eds. Sustainable Food Planning: Evolving Theory and Practice (pp. 207-220)
ISBN : 978-90-8686-187-3 | Publisher : Wageningen Academic Publishers | Published : Wageningen
Making Europe unsafe for agbiotech (2009-07)
Levidow, Les
In: Atkinson, Paul; Glasner, Peter and Lock, Margaret eds. The Handbook of Genetics and Society: Mapping the New Genomic Era. Genetics and Society
ISBN : 978-0-415-41080-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
The transatlantic agbiotech conflict: a policy problem and opportunity for EU regulatory policies (2006-10)
Levidow, Les
In: Falkner, Robert ed. The International politics of genetically modified food: diplomacy, trade and law (pp. 118-137)
ISBN : 230001254 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : London
Governing conflicts over sustainability: agricultural biotechnology in Europe (2005-06-16)
Levidow, Les
In: Higgins, Vaughan and Lawrence, Geoffrey eds. Agricultural governance: globalization and the new politics of regulation. Routledge advances in sociology (pp. 98-117)
ISBN : 415352290 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK
Marketizing higher education: neoliberal strategies and counter-strategies (2002)
Levidow, Les
In: Robins, Kevin and Webster, Frank eds. The Virtual University? Knowledge, Markets and Management (pp. 227-248)
ISBN : 199245576 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK
Fausses notes dans le consert reglementaire (1998)
Carr, Susan; Levidow, Les and Wield, David
In: Philipan, P. and Tasteman, C. eds. Plantes transgeniques: Les graines de la discorde (pp. 129-133)
ISBN : 2842990625 | Publisher : Elsevier | Published : Paris, France
Bounding the Risk Assessment of a Herbicide Tolerant Crop (1996)
Levidow, L.; Carr, S.; Schomberg, R and Wield, D.
In: van Dommelen, A. ed. Coping with Deliberate Release: The Limits of Risk Assessment (pp. 81-102)
ISBN : 90-802139-4-2 | Publisher : International Centre for Human and Public Affairs | Published : Tilberg
Knowledge practices: doing cooperative research with civil society organisations (2009)
Hinchliffe, Stephen; Oreszczyn, Sue and Levidow, Les
In : Nordic Environmental Social Sciences (NESS) Conference (9-12 Jun 2009, London, UK)
What Green Economy? Diverse agendas, their tensions and potential futures (2014-07)
Levidow, Les
IKD, Open University
Sustainable Development of Rural Communities in the Mediterranean Region (2013-09)
Woodgate, Graham; Lamberti, Lamberto; Belsanti, Virginia; Bessaoud, Omar and Levidow, Les
CIHEAM-IAMB, Bari, Italy.
Cooperative research processes in CREPE (Cooperative research on Environmental Problems in Europe) (2011)
Oreszczyn, Sue; Levidow, Les and Hinchliffe, Stephen
The Open University, UK.
EU agbiotech controversy: what has been on trial? (2010-12)
Levidow, Les and Carr, Susan
Soziale Technik, Graz.
Precautionary Expertise for GM Crops (PEG): EU Workshop Report (2003-10)
Levidow, Les
Centre for Technology Strategy, The Open University
Market stage precautions: managing regulatory disharmonies for transgenic crops in Europe (1999-04)
Levidow, Les; Carr, Susan and Wield, David

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