Academic journal article Journal of International Law & International Relations

Food Security, Free Trade, and the Battle for the State

Academic journal article Journal of International Law & International Relations

Food Security, Free Trade, and the Battle for the State

Article excerpt

  I. FOOD SECURITY AS AN INTERNATIONAL PROBLEM AND PROJECT      1. FEEDING THE WORLD: FOOD SECURITY BEYOND THE STATE      2. NATURE VERSUS POLITICS: THE CAUSES OF FOOD INSECURITY      3. EXPLAINING THE UNEVEN CHARACTER OF FOOD SECURITY      4. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH: THE STRANGE UBIQUITY OF LIBERALISM  II. MAPPING INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE GLOBAL FOOD ECONOMY      1. INTERNATIONAL LAW AND ECONOMIC ORDER      2. INTERNATIONAL LAW AS ROUTINE: EMBEDDING LIBERALISM      3. TOWARDS A HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND ECONOMIC ORDERING III. RETHINKING THE HISTORY OF FREE TRADE AND FOOD SECURITY      1. POLITICAL ECONOMY, FREE TRADE, AND THE SCIENCE OF THE         LEGISLATOR      2. MALTHUS AND THE PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION      3. THE CORN LAWS AND THE MAKING OF THE FREE TRADE STATE      4. FREE TRADE, FAMINE RELIEF, AND COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION  IV. FREE TRADE IN CONTEXT: FOOD SECURITY AND THE SOCIAL STATE      1. THE RISE OF COMMERCIAL DIPLOMACY      2. ECONOMIC LIBERALISATION AND AGRICULTURAL EXCEPTIONALISM      3. FREE TRADE, ECONOMIC INTEGRATION, AND THE SOCIAL STATE      4. FREE TRADE AND THE TROJAN HORSE OF DEVELOPMENT      5. MONOPOLIES AND CORPORATE POWER   V. CONCLUSION--THE CRISIS OF THE FREE TRADE STATE 

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Food security has re-emerged as a major global problem over the past decade, during which it has become clear that the capacity to access adequate food is strikingly unevenly distributed, both within states and between states. Yet there is little agreement amongst scholars and policy-makers as to the reasons for the persistence of that uneven distribution of hunger and undernourishment in the world today. This article is part of a broader project exploring the role played by law over the past two centuries in constituting an international economic order that enables individuals and corporations to profit from human dependence upon food while growing numbers of people globally are undernourished. The aim of the project is to understand why food security remains so unevenly distributed in the twenty-first century, and whether those patterns of vulnerability have anything to do with international law and the legacies of imperialism.

The immediate impetus for the project was the disruption to the global food economy that began with the food price crisis of 2006. In that year, food shortages and a dramatic rise in food prices led to a significant increase in the number of people globally who were undernourished, either because they could not produce enough food for themselves and their families or because they could not purchase enough food for an adequate diet. (1) Between 2006 and 2008, food shortages and the rise in food prices caused political instability and were met by food riots in at least thirty countries, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, and Somalia. (2) By 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated that "more than a billion people, one in every six human beings may be suffering from under-nourishment." (3) In 2010, food prices again rose worldwide as a result of a series of crop failures caused by bad weather, aggravated when Russia implemented an export ban on wheat. Thirteen people were killed during protests in Mozambique triggered by the subsequent rise in the cost of bread. (4) In December 2010 and again in February 2011, the FAO Food Price Index hit its highest levels since the measure was first calculated in 1990, surpassing those seen during the 2006-8 crisis. In response to such developments, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) called on governments to "wake up before it is too late." (5) UNCTAD's 2013 Trade and Environment report noted the continued concerns for food security caused by high and volatile food prices internationally, triggered in large part by climate change, food price speculation, and the direct link between fuel and food prices created by the growth of the biofuel industry. …

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