Globalisation Of Food ProductionPresentation Transcript
The politics of global food production is not a new theme. During the 17 th century the European North created a colonial system based on plantation agriculture in the South. The colonies that lacked mineral wealth were settled by farmers who could extract wealth by exploiting the fertile soils and the tropical or subtropical species that could not be grown in Europe.
Globalisation of food production is obvious if you look around a supermarket. Vegetables from West Africa, fruit from New Zealand, wine from Argentina and tea from India compete for space on the shelves. The causes of such developments are:
Improvements in the technology of transporting perishable goods.
Reduction in the costs of transporting these products.
Promotion of new products by large retailers and giant food companies.
Standardisation of food production techniques.
Reductions in tariffs and other barriers to trade.
These processes need the consent of governments (even if reluctantly given) and hence the central role of politics in driving the globalisation of food production. At the heart of this debate lies a paradox. Food is not in short supply. Food products have never been so plentiful. Globally we produce enough to feed each human 3500 calories a day. However, about 30 million people die each year of undernourishment or related diseases. Every year a further 800 million people suffer debilitating illnesses resulting from chronic malnutrition. And some of these people live in the very countries that are increasingly committed to exporting food products to stock the supermarket shelves in the richer MEDCs.
Famine and malnourishment occur because people can’t afford to buy food, not because it is unavailable.
The effects of the globalisation of food production are debatable but include:
Increasing variety of products in MEDCs
Cheaper food for MEDCs
Increasing areas devoted to growth of export crops in LEDCs
Increasing control of food production by large corporations.
Increasing development of chains of production from agribusiness through to major retailers.
Much more controversially, globalisation might be blamed for the following problems:
Increasing dependence of LEDCs on MEDCs. The LEDCs are trapped in a system of dependence reinforced by trade rules to which ruling groups in LEDCs have often signed up.
Increasing rural poverty as poor peasant farmers lose their land. Poor farmers cannot afford sophisticated technology and often go into debt to a richer neighbour in an attempt to ‘keep up’.
Increasing urban malnourishment. Land switched from domestic food production to export.