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.
New to This Edition
- Every chapter has been updated to take account of recent developments and the theoretical framework has been fully revised. Meanwhile a wealth of up-to-date empirical data has been added.
"In this admirably clear exposition Clapp explains the increasing 'financialisation' of and speculation in food commodities. Will sub-prime eaters be blamed for some future market crash? It makes you think twice about a second breakfast."
– The Guardian
"Clapp explains in a clear and concise way that food is not only a simple source of nourishment, but it also represents a political issue that connects us all. Definitely a good guide for anyone who is trying to orientate themselves in the economic global jumble."
– Global Journal
"In an increasingly complex argument that Clapp does well to unmuddy, she shows how the development of the world food economy is not the full picture – hers is a story that needs to be heard."
– Irish Examiner
"Clapp does a fantastic job in opening up a space herself to act upon global injustices in the world food economy by shortening the mental distance that exists between us, food consumers, and the social, economic and ecological relationships associated with the food we eat."
– Global Policy Journal
"An outstanding and accessible book for courses in food politics, globalization, economics, or international relations."
– Agriculture and Human Values
"Clapp draws from her vast knowledge of economics, politics, and the environment to write insightfully about the events that contributed to the development of the world food economy."
– Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures
"Clapp's work provides a concise, accessible analysis of the complex system that surrounds one of the most basic of necessities yet offers sufficient depth to actas an introductory text for those who wish to further understandthe food system."
– Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development
"Clapp's concise, accessible prose, and her deep engagement with the subject matter should ensure that this book enjoys a readership well beyond the academy."
– Organization and Environment
"An excellent diagnostic about the constitution, evolution and the challenges of the global food system, making it indispensible for development practitioners, policy makers, social movements, academics interested in learning about the emerging field of food studies, as well as all those who would like to understand (and eventually transform) the distribution of power in the food system."
– Journal of International Development
"The new must-read primer for those trying to make sense of the suddenly turbulent world of drought and food shortages, price spikes and financial crises, biofuels and commodity index funds, food riots, and social unrest."
– Review of Policy Research
"A relevant and current text that creates a great common platform from which to jump to explore community governance of the food system."
– Economic Geography
"A fascinating glimpse inside the food machine."
– Cost Sector Catering
"Covering the most salient features of the global food economy in just a couple of hundred pages is a pretty daunting task, but it is one which Jennifer Clapp manages to achieve [...] A finely detailed and well researched volume."
– Morning Star
"A sharp, concise and satisfyingly detailed field-guide to the hegemons of the world food economy."
– Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing
"Jennifer Clapp explains what happens when food is no longer considered a mere source of nourishment or cultural element but is transformed into a fungible commodity. Clapp unpacks and clarifies the mind-numbing complexities of transnational corporations, international trade, and financial markets. Best of all, the book provides precisely the information and tools advocates need to redesign the global food economy to promote fair trade, food justice, and food sovereignty."
– Marion Nestle, New York University
"This excellent book explains why food has become a hot political issue on the global stage. The author clearly knows her subject and offers an insightful, engaging, and highly accessible introduction to the global food economy."
– Robert Falkner, London School of Economics and Political Science
List of Abbreviations
List of Figures and Tables
1 Unpacking the World Food Economy
2 The Rise of a Global Industrial Food Market
3 Agricultural Trade Rules Liberalization
4 Transnational Corporations
5 Financialization of Food
6 Can the World Food Economy Be Transformed?
Notes and references
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Jennifer Clapp is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security and Sustainability in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo