Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal

Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal

Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal

Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal

Synopsis

The failures of "free-market" capitalism are perhaps nowhere more evident than in the production and distribution of food. Although modern human societies have attained unprecedented levels of wealth, a significant amount of the world's population continues to suffer from hunger or food insecurity on a daily basis. In Agriculture and Food in Crisis , Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar have assembled an exceptional collection of scholars from around the world to explore this frightening long-term trend in food production. While approaching the issue from many angles, the contributors to this volume share a focus on investigating how agricultural production is shaped by a system that is oriented around the creation of profit above all else, with food as nothing but an afterthought.

As the authors make clear, it is technically possible to feed to world's people, but it is not possible to do so as long as capitalism exists. Toward that end, they examine what can be, and is being, done to create a human-centered and ecologically sound system of food production, from sustainable agriculture and organic farming on a large scale to movements for radical land reform and national food sovereignty. This book will serve as an indispensible guide to the years ahead, in which world politics will no doubt come to be increasingly understood as food politics.

Excerpt

Walden Bello and Mara Baviera

In the years 2006–08, food shortages became a global reality, with the prices of commodities spiraling beyond the reach of vast numbers of people. International agencies were caught flatfooted, with the World Food Program warning that its rapidly diminishing food stocks might not be able to deal with the emergency.

Owing to surging prices of rice, wheat, and vegetable oils, the food import bills of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) climbed by 37 percent from 2007 to 2008, from $17.9 million to $24.6 million, after having risen by 30 percent in 2006. By the end of 2008, the United Nations reported, “the annual food import basket in LDCs cost more than three times that of 2000, not because of the increased volume of food imports, but as the result of rising food prices.” These tumultuous developments added 75 million people to the ranks of the hungry and drove an estimated 125 million people in developing countries into extreme poverty.

Alarmed by massive global demand, countries like China and Argentina resorted to imposing taxes or quotas on their rice and wheat exports to avert local shortages. Rice exports were simply banned in Cambodia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. South-South soli-

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