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The global food economy is riven with contradictions. Rising levels of obesity in the developed world stand in stark contrast to widespread hunger and malnutrition in the global South. Transnational companies dominate the market and benefit from lucrative subsidies, whilst farmers in developing countries become ever more impoverished. Food miles, mounting toxicity and the 'ecological hoofprint' of livestock have turned agribusiness into one of the leading contributors to climate change, with humanity's food supply resting on ever more precarious foundations.
In the time since Tony Weis's highly influential work was first published, the situation has only become more volatile. The intervening years have seen food riots in over thirty countries, an explosion in biofuels and GM crops, and mounting evidence of a looming environmental catastrophe. In this thoroughly updated and expanded new edition guide to the issues affecting world food production, Weis explains how such an unequal and unsustainable system came about, and how it has been facilitated by governments driven by free market dogma.
Ultimately, Weis looks to how we might build a more socially just, ecologically rational and humane food economy, with this new edition serving as timely reminder of just why these struggles are so urgent.
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
1. The Global Food Economy: Contradictions and Crises
2. The Temperate Grain-Oilseed-Livestock Complex
3. From Colonialism to Global Market Integration in the South
4. Entrenching an Uneven Playing Field: The Multilateral Transnational Regulation of Agriculture
5. The Battle for the Future of Farming
Tony Weis is an associate professor in geography at the University of Western Ontario. He is also the author of The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock (Zed 2013), as well as co-editor of A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice (2014) and Critical Perspectives on Food Sovereignty (2014).
Reviews of the first edition:
"This is the book I have been waiting for. Tony Weis gives an ecological foundation to analysis of food regimes, something that many of us having been attempting in less capable ways for some time"
– Harriet Friedmann, Journal of Agrarian Change
"Finally, a book summarizing the current state of agricultural policies that my mother could read, and that can stand up to a critical eye [...] In this effort, Weis succeeds with flying colours"
– K.R. Avilés-Vásquez, Development and Change
"I hadn't imagined that a small book could do justice to so large a topic before I read Tony Weis on the global food economy – it's necessary and terrific: intellectually rigorous and informative, full of insight and provocation."
– Henry Bernstein, SOAS
"A searing indictment of big agri-businesses [...] A sane and passionate plea to reorder the global food economy [...] The book [...] should find a place in our bookshelf."
– Economic and Political Weekly
"A sweeping overview of the contradictions and crises in the global food economy."
– Food Ethics
"Compact and readable, Tony Weis confronts head-on the forces that have brought about the paradoxes in the production and distribution of food around the world."
– The New Agriculturist
"A patient and enthusiastic insight into a key aspect of international development and environmentalism."
– Red Pepper
"A powerful book [...] incorporate[s] so many components into its contained and up-to-date narrative, it is well worth reading by both scholars advanced along the road of global food and agricultural studies, and by those who reside in Weis's state of original unconsciousness [...] Weis has made an impressive and valuable contribution to a burgeoning scholar-activist literature that seeks not just to show us the dangerous flaws and injustices of our contemporary models of food production, but also to indicate where we might go for practical and meaningful alternatives."
– Josh Brem-Wilson, Organization and Environment
"Students new to the political economy/ecology of food and agriculture [...] sometimes struggle to place the various components of the global agrifood system into a coherent conceptual framework. This book will be a useful tool for such students, as it outlines both the causes and impacts of accelerating structural changes around the globe in one accessible narrative."
– P.H. Howard, Agriculture and Human Values
"Tony Weis [...] presents a highly informative narrative [...] [and] provides abundant fact-based arguments to confidently engage in political dialogue on the driving forces of a food system seemingly in perpetual crisis [...] With his important book on this vital topic, Tony Weis has provided nothing less than a solid departure point for such debate."
– Glenn Brigaldino, Review of African Political Economy
"At last, here is a book that draws together the differing historical-geographical trajectories that today invite discussion of a specifically global agricultural dilemma, and what might be done about it [...] this is an uncommonly synthetic and focused book."
– Daniel Niles, Annals of the Association of American Geographers