Home > Uncategorized > WTO, price crops and global hunger

WTO, price crops and global hunger

from Maria Alejandra Madi

Current food challenges involve issues ranging from land and food access to commodity price volatility, besides national and international regulation. Although the scope and intensity of these challenges vary according to the different economic and social situations of countries, the debate has been global.

Today, once again, these issues arise deep concerns on behalf of the 2017 WTO ministerial conference  that has just been closed, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Indeed, the WTO has not seemed to enhance effective actions on long-standing proposals. Agriculture negotiations remain among the most important and challenging issues. These negotiations began in 2000 as part of the mandated “built-in agenda” agreed at the end of the 1986-1994 Uruguay Round and, then, they were incorporated into the Doha Round launched at the end of 2001.

The process of globalization of capital in agriculture and food production has shaped a global network of institutions that supplies the worldwide food markets. Contract farming and integrated supply chains are deeply transforming the structure of the agriculture and food industries and, as a result, they have put the local farm sector under high pressure. Further, the expansion of big investment projects, led by transnational companies and institutional investors, has expose small farmers to a situation of hunger and food insecurity by expelling them from the land where they live. In addition to these challenges, the biotech revolution and the introduction of genetically improved varieties of seeds have fostered structural changes.  read more

  1. Risk Analyst
    December 20, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    I can’t get behind the issue of “food challenges” the way the author does. I think the bigger issue is that the earth now has 7.6 billion people and it is going up at over 1% per year. This is unsustainable, and instead of diagnosing food challenges as a class struggle issue, I think a more accurate stand is to look at the sustainability of the earth’s environment and emphasize zero population growth. The increase in the number of chronically hungry people the author points to has a lot to do with population growth. We are not going to grow our way out of environmental constraints nor find a remedy with some class struggle against multinationals.

    • Stefanos
      December 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      Although population growth may be the ultimate limit in resources, we are currently far from it.
      The problem now is overconsumption of the West (aka, the rich part of the world).

      With a global (average) GDP per capita (PPP) of 15.8K,
      with India GDP-PC-PPP 7.2K,
      with China 16.6K,
      and with the OECD countries, roughly at 40K,
      it is hard to make a case for overpopulation as the current issue.

      Unless of course you feel entitled to your share of the world resources…

  2. Maria Alejandra Madi
    December 21, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks for your comment. However, the focus of the post was the role of the WTO.


  3. Maria Alejandra Madi
    December 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks for your comment. I agree that there is an unequal distribution of food. The volatility of prices deepens this inequality. That is why it is urgent to rethink the role and actions of the WTO.


  4. Dan Andrews
    December 25, 2017 at 1:27 am

    A monopolistic competition includes many different firms and a differentiated product. Product differentiation is when each firm distinguishes the difference between their product versus the competitors. Under monopolistic completion, market entry usually causes price to drop along with profits declining. Availability of positive normal profits typically attracts new firms to enter the market. This can cause an increase in supply and according to the law of supply price falls. This continues until all the positive profits are declining, as increased competition results in declining profits. New firms can enter to eliminate positive profits of existing firms and can exit the market if they are making losses in the short run as there is freedom of entry and exit in this market. The demand curve for a monopolistically competitive firm is in a downward sloping and elastic as compared to that of a monopoly firm. Each firm in this type of market structure makes only normal profits in the long run due to freedom of entry and exit.

  5. Edward Ross
    December 31, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Before replying to the above I describe some of relevant back ground in New Zealand firstly I spent the 1960s in town supply dairy farming and forged connections with the Rurakura ag research centre. Then my wife and I volunteered to go to a remote area in Papua New Guinea to help the local people to raise cattle and introduce protein crops and provide basic health care. In the late 1970s while in a break in NZ I was offered a job at the Hamilton university and the chance to do some formal study to gain a doctorate in agronomy. However because I thought I needed to do more work on the PNG project before returning. The reason for this preamble is to establish that my reasoning is based on actual experience not on what sometimes what amounts to unintentional false assumptions.
    In spite of that I acknowledge all of the above make valid points however I do believe over concentrating on population increases without taking into account advances in agriculture, and other factors such as land left unproductive through mad despots and wars, emerging nations lacking experienced leadership. And last but not least the political economic manipulation of production that favours the large corporations and ignores the small farmer who has an infinity with the land and what it can produce. Ted the hayseed

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