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Food sovereignty: Reconnecting food, nature and community

Food sovereignty

Edited by Hannah Wittman, Annette Aurelie Desmarais & Nettie Wiebe
Published by Pambazuka Press
Website: www.pambazukapress.org
2011, 212pp, ISBN 978 0 85749 029 2 (Pb), £13.95

'Food sovereignty' is defined as the right of nations and people to control their own food production systems, including their own food markets, production methods, food cultures and environments. This collection of 13 chapters on different aspects of the economics and politics of food production, written by 19 authors including the three editors, provides a detailed critique of why, after years of development assistance and trade conferences, there is a global food deficit verging on crisis.

There are now 25 per cent more people chronically hungry than in the mid-1990s, prices for seed and inputs as well as food are rocketing, and it has never been more urgent that a strategy to meet this challenge is agreed and implemented. "Some proponents of neoliberal globalization would have us believe that the crisis is the result of shortages and market failures," the three editors write in the introductory chapter. "They assure us that the best way to keep up with growing population is to stop governments intervening in the market, focus on high-tech approaches, increase production with the adoption of genetically seeds (GMOs) and further liberalize agriculture and food."

In effect the authors of Food sovereignty challenge and reject the current dominant system of producing and marketing food and other subsistence crops, and they do so through reflecting the stance and activities of the transnational agrarian movement La Via Campesina, formed in 1993 and now representing 148 organisations from 69 countries.

It is unavoidable that there is overlap and repetition, but the chapters range from redistributive land polices, capitalist agriculture, the food crisis and peasant resistance, seeds, biofuels and biodiversity, drawing on examples from around the world. Because of the diversity of authors and their polemic, a brief and clear summary of where the drive for food sovereignty stands would have been helpful. Nevertheless, for anyone wishing to look behind the usual strategies advanced for increasing food production and to consider radical alternatives, this volume offers much to reflect on.

Date published: May 2011


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