Political Ecology: Global and Local

Political Ecology: Global and Local

Political Ecology: Global and Local

Political Ecology: Global and Local


This collection is drawn from a recent Global Political conference held to mark the centenary of the birth of Harold Innis, Canada's most important political economist. Throughout his life, Innis was concerned with topics which remain central to political ecology today, such as the link between culture and nature, the impact of humanity on the environment and the role of technology and communications. In this volume, the contributors address environmental issues which Innes was concerned with, from a contemporary, political economy perspective. They explore a wide range of themes and issues including: sustainability; risk and regulation; population growth; and planetary management. Case studies provide further insight into issues such as industrial racism, women and development and collective action.


Harriet Friedmann

Food offers a useful insight into the world economy and politics, because it is central both to accumulation of capital, and to livelihood and community. Plants and animals are at once nourishment for human beings, and edible commodities. Land is at once a natural habitat of human communities and a resource for production. Diets are at once cuisines expressing cultural relations to nature, to families and communities, and to the body-and bundles of substitutable, variously priced nutrients offered to consumers.

This chapter outlines how the world food economy worked in the 'golden age' of the 1950s and 1960s, and how alternatives have been taking shape during the prolonged restructuring of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It begins with a brief account of the choices made after the Second World War, which rejected international coordination of agricultural trade in favour of systems that were highly regulated by national states, including trade restrictions and subsidies. Next it traces the main changes in production and diet that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, which created a 'Fordist' international food regime, based on standard agricultural products, such as wheat and milk. the chapter concludes by describing the competing models for a new food regime: the liberal-productivist model and alternative development models.

Background to the Fordist food regime

In 1947, the Food and Agriculture Organization met to decide on the proposal for a World Food Board, an idea which had originated during the Second World War at a famous meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1943. the proposal for a World Food Board had wide support among the victorious Allies, as an expression of the larger purposes of the fight to defeat fascism. the institutions to manage international stocks were already in place. During the Second World War governments on both sides undertook massive, coordi-

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