We all need food to survive, and forty percent of the world’s population relies on agriculture for their livelihood. Yet control over food is concentrated in relatively few hands. Turmoil in the world food economy over the past decade – including the food price crisis, intensification of land grabs, and clashes over rules governing global food trade – has highlighted both the volatility and vulnerability inherent in the way we currently organize this vital sector. At the same time, contrasting extremes of both undernourishment and overnourishment affect a significant proportion of humanity. There is also growing awareness of the serious ecological consequences that stem from industrial models of agriculture that are increasingly spreading worldwide.
The revised and updated second edition of this popular book aims to contribute to a fuller understanding of the forces that influence and shape the current global food system. In it, Jennifer Clapp explores how the rise of industrial agriculture, corporate control, inequitable agricultural trade rules, and the financialization of food have each enabled powerful actors to gain fundamental influence on the practices that dominate the world food economy. A variety of movements have emerged that are making important progress in establishing alternative food systems but, as Clapp’s penetrating analysis ably shows, significant challenges remain.