Dilemmas, Conflict and Survival: Food Production in the Twenty-first Century

6188 words (25 pages) Essay in Economics

08/02/20 Economics Reference this

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Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.

Ecclesiastes 9:7

 The power of population is so superior to the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.

Thomas Malthus

I   Introduction

 

The story of human evolution is a story of food. This evolution has carried humanity far beyond its ‘natural’ constraints, allowing vast populations to be supported by equally immense production systems. Unsurprisingly, a preoccupation with the perceived limits to producing food for a growing population has been a longstanding and pertinent cause for anxiety. Yet centuries of doomsaying has not been vindicated because production has continued to outpace population growth. Today, at the peak of our technical competence, the real dilemma no longer seems to be about whether we can, but whether we should continue to increase food production.

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Over the past fifty years the rapid expansion in both population and food production has been remarkable, but not without consequence. The ecological damage, ethical compromise and inequalities weathered to produce enough food for our current population of 7.4 billion people foreshadows what may need to be sacrificed to support the 10 billion of the next fifty years. Can the urgency of this challenge render irrelevant the numerous concerns surrounding how this goal should be realised? Or are we better off limiting production and letting food shortages takes their horrific toll?

Thankfully, this quandary should remain hypothetical. The rising population does not impose a binary choice between producing enough food on the one hand or preserving our essential values and environment on the other.  Food production is not just compatible with these issues; it is deeply dependent on them. This essay demonstrates this through two propositions. First, that over prioritising production destroys the normative rationale for producing more food in the first place, and second, that attempting to meet sufficient production is futile without considering essential issues beyond production alone.

II   Normative Functions of Food Production

 

Increasing food production is a tool used for achieving broader normative purposes – it is not a goal pursued for its own sake. I propose these purposes derive from underlying equitable, ethical and social norms. If this is true, then the notion that those norms can be disregarded in single-minded pursuit of production becomes problematic. Adopting such a singular focus poses a high probability that the original purposive rationale for increasing production will be frustrated. The pursuit of universal human value and social preservation are two salient justifications for increasing food production, analysis of which reveals the contradictory logic of considering their normative underpinnings as irrelevant in favour of prioritising production.

A   Universal Human Value

Recognition of universal human value is so established as a normative purpose for increasing food output it almost seems axiomatic. A right to life, including access to food, features within even the narrowest philosophical articulations of human rights and is enshrined within international rights frameworks.[1] Equity of access to basic subsistence is at the heart of the desire to end hunger, and as the population grows, equitable concerns motivate increasing production to ensure there is enough food for everyone – failure to do so would be considered monstrous.  It is, therefore, quite absurd to claim the urgency to produce more food is now so pressing that equity should be rendered irrelevant when the foundation of that urgency is equity itself.

If avoiding hunger in our growing population is why producing sufficient food is urgent and essential, a singular production focus is unlikely to achieve this.  Although classical economic perspectives argued prioritising production would be the best mechanism to feed the population,[2] hunger is rarely a result of insufficient outputs. The sense of moral failure in the face of modern famine arises because total production comfortably exceeds global requirements by around fifty per cent.[3] Aggregate food supply is not apportioned equally through a population;[4] it is divided unequally along geographical and economic contours. Malnourishment and obesity are two of the most serious – and seemingly incongruous – global health challenges, aptly representing the perverse consequences of prioritising production while blind to equity. Further, irrespective of how high production may rise, the socio-political factors that drive the worst famines would remain untouched. Twenty million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria are currently at risk of dying from starvation, primarily as a result of brutal internal conflicts that hinder aid and agriculture from delivering adequate nutrition.[5] Tragically these are the worst famines since the Second World War and merely increasing production would be of marginal assistance. Wider action is necessary.

The economic context of the next fifty years further indicates the futility of excluding equity if we hope to avoid hunger as millions of people will remain priced out of food markets. In future, most economies will continue to centre around private ownership where individuals either purchase food or grow it themselves.[6] Subsistence farming is declining with the majority of people now living in cities,[7] leaving most individuals reliant on wages to buy food. Surplus production may lower prices, but for those with little or no income, food will remain too expensive to purchase. Without equitable redistribution, these groups cannot expect to benefit, irrespective of output growth – their economic standing will always preclude access. Furthermore, food producers have little incentive to market to disenfranchised communities where population growth is usually highest. Rechannelling surplus crop production into meat and biofuels is more profitable than selling the crops to developing countries, and lucrative Western markets attract the vast majority of outputs despite their penchant for excessive waste. Even for individuals with some economic means, geographic bad luck insulates them from the benefits production increases might otherwise yield. 

If the need to produce unprecedented volumes of food for the growing population is motivated by humanist aims, without concurrent regard for equity food production’s capacity to attain this normative purpose is tenuous.

Social Preservation

Alternatively, production expansion may be justified as a means to protect domestic and international order as booming populations increase food competition. Persuasively, Hobbes’ impulse to resist humanity’s regression to a chaotic ‘state of nature’ can validate unsavoury compromises to liberty, equity, ethics and other values if collective self-preservation ensues.[8] Under this framework, one may disregard concerns about ethics and distribution so long as stability is achieved by higher outputs. Such stability from food production is plausible considering political systems are usually stable when members consider them legitimate and effective,[9] accomplished when members’ needs, including food, are sufficiently met.[10]  Conversely, rising scarcity and food prices increase revolutionary activity,[11] legitimising Malthus’ contention that a failure to meet food demand portends societal collapse.[12]

Absolute prioritisation of production may, therefore, derive a purposive logic from its ability to meet essential demands of members and ensure society remains stable. However, this conclusion collapses as soon as we recognise other issues are concurrently essential to society’s continuation. Food production is a socially embedded process intimately connected to land rights, cultural practices and economic relationships. Blunt attempts to increase production pose a severe disruptive threat to the social polity, undermining the stability that increased production was supposed to maintain – highlighting the self-defeating result of treating social issues as irrelevant.

Illustratively, the Green Revolution’s[*] disastrous impacts in Punjab during the 1970s demonstrates the effect of prioritising outputs with disregard for the socio-political impacts of systemic agricultural reform.[13] Punjab is a North Indian state where the country’s adoption of High Yield Agriculture (HYA) was quantitatively most successful in production terms.[14] However, throughout this period Punjab suffered escalating violence culminating in a civil war spanning the 1980s and 1990s with discontent persisting today.[15] Numerous scholars contend the Green Revolution was central to provoking insurgency.[16] Small tracts of land were consolidated to create the large tracts needed for mechanised farming, rapidly dispossessing Sikh peasantry who relocated to urban centres with limited education and means to support themselves. Simultaneously, massive influxes of capital to large farmers intensified social stratifications within Punjabi society, eroding cultural harmony and allowing wealthy groups to monopolise increasingly scarce water resources already depleted by HYA practices. Finally, the central Indian government interfered more stridently with local politics to oppress social malcontent and sustain the new agricultural outputs of the region. The collective pressure of these forces catalysed the widespread insurgency.[17]

The Green Revolution vaporised the traditional societal structures in Punjab that a century of colonial disruption failed to disturb, wreaking atrocious repercussions.[18] Fixation on output to the exclusion of socio-political factors does not secure stability – it fractures social cohesion. Consequently, while social preservation is a compelling normative justification for increasing food production, unless factors beyond production itself are considered, the precise opposite of social stability may result.

While there are numerous reasons why increasing production is considered important as populations expand, none can be accomplished if equity, ethics and other social matters are considered irrelevant – to do so is to obliviate the original purpose of increasing production.

III   Achieving Long Term Production

 

Even if we accepted food production could be divorced from its normative basis, prioritising it to the exclusion of all else would thwart endeavours to raise outputs over the next fifty years. The decadence of civilisation and our past indifference to sustainability – particularly toward food – threatens to unwind the system that feeds us. Twenty-first-century producers face environmental constraints and dwindling resources created by decades of short-sighted preference for cheap food and fast profits. Unless this approach is abandoned and remedied, these constraints will crystallise into incurable barriers to raising production levels. The environment and other issues are of central relevance because food production depends upon natural conditions to occur, and those conditions are fragile and under threat. Moreover, achieving sufficient production is not exclusively a matter of boosting outputs, it requires managing demand where possible to make the goal achievable.

A  Future Vulnerabilities

The vulnerabilities that have emerged from rapid expansions in production are most obvious in agriculture as it has shifted from traditional subsistence farming to ‘industrial’ processes. From 1961 to 2011 global harvest yield more than tripled,[19] fuelled by chemical fertilising, mechanisation, high yield crop varieties and many other advances. These improvements have been hugely beneficial to millions of people. Furthermore, industrial processes usefully support growing urban populations by providing large quantities of fruit and vegetables, meat, and other staples to cities where high density and limited land prevent self-sufficiency. Consumers perceive an efficient system capable of producing abundant, cheap and accessible food resources. However, these desirable characteristics are the result of compounding externalised costs that will seriously impede future food production if unaddressed.[20]  

Farming, for instance, is inseparable from the environment in which it occurs. Unchecked agricultural expansion throughout the American Midwest in the 1920s starkly reflects the impact of disregarding land management in favour of immediate production gains. Although the farms were initially successful, the significance of ploughing away the native grasses and replacing them with shallow rooting food crops was not immediately apparent. When a natural drought cycle set in, the newly altered soil structure was incapable of tolerating the increased dryness. Consequently, the region lost 75 per cent of its topsoil to wind erosion, creating massive dust storms throughout the 1930s and permanent agricultural declines.[21] Comparably poor land management is currently endemic, especially throughout the developing world and North Africa,[22] with vast land tracts being rapidly converted to agricultural use with scant regard to sustainable practices. Booming demand for meat introduces further stress from livestock grazing with 20 per cent of total global pastures and 73 per cent of rangelands in dry areas degraded by livestock action.[23] Combined with the mass monocultures of industrial farming that replace vast areas with single crop varieties, agricultural food systems face vulnerabilities comparable to the Midwest.

Land management issues are particularly concerning as climate change advances over the next fifty years. The fivefold increase in natural disasters observed since 1970 associated with global warming demands highly resilient agricultural systems.[24] As apparent in the Midwest, improper land management leaves essential farming systems highly vulnerable to drought, but other increasingly common disasters including flooding and storms are equally problematic. While the response of crop growth to higher temperatures is uncertain,[25] the increase in extreme weather alone warrants careful attention to farming’s environmental dimensions if we hope to sustain or expand agricultural outputs. Poor management poses risks to long-term production, and when the consequences materialise, they are catastrophic and permanent.

Problematically, the pressing need for sustainability is obscured by the artificial affordability of industrial agriculture’s output. Instead, the true costs are externalised; either to taxpayers through generous government subsidies to large producers,[26] or to future producers and consumers through depletion of non-renewable resources. While subsidies are tolerable, the latter poses a significant barrier to future production improvements as resource depletion not only hinders increasing outputs but also threatens to reverse the significant productivity gains of the past few decades.

Fertiliser reliance embodies the risky brinkmanship of ignoring resource limitations, evidenced in its dependence on phosphorous – an essential nutrient for plant growth. Crop harvesting removes phosphorous from an ecosystem, although traditional farms reintroduce it by returning plant matter, concentrated in animal manure and compost, to the soil. In extended industrial supply chains, food is consumed far away from farms, preventing phosphorous recycling. The deficit is compensated with mined phosphate ore which has become indispensable to industrial farming. However, phosphate is non-renewable with many estimates projecting full depletion between 50–100 years.[27] However, the impact of increasing scarcity will translate into escalating fertiliser prices long before total exhaustion. Fertiliser price increases contributed to food price spikes in 2008 and subsequent food shortages,[28] foreshadowing the impact of phosphorous price increases expected in coming years. The environmental characteristics of farm design and resource usage are essential considerations to mitigate approaching depletion of phosphate and other vital resources including water. Increasing manure recycling and other alternatives may delay depletion, but a broader transformation of industrial agriculture is needed to render it sustainable.[29]

While production’s continuity depends on considering ‘non-production’ issues, so too does the safety of our food which deteriorates with poor environmental and ethical practices – most observable in livestock production. Rising prosperity has shifted meat to the centre of dietary patterns,[30] driving up annual consumption from 23kg per capita in 1961 to 42kgs by 2009,[31] facilitated by a massive expansion of livestock population and a proliferation of ethically dubious production practices. The macabre image of feedlots and battery cages rightly attract moral consternation, but the most pressing concerns are the unseen antibiotics coursing through the animals’ veins.

In humans, antibiotic prescriptions are carefully managed to avoid bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. While antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be treated with stronger antibiotics including colistin and other ‘last-line’ drugs, we are powerless to treat bacterial infections that develop resistance to those stronger drugs. These precautions are rarely observed when administering antibiotics to animals as the inconvenience and cost of individualised treatment rarely align with commercial priorities. Farms prefer to dose entire stocks with colistin and other antibiotics regardless of how many animals are infected. A recent discovery of colistin-resistant bacteria in pig meat from Chinese farms is concerning, but truly alarming is its observed genetic capacity to transfer to humans.[32] The grave danger was recognised by the World Health Organisation, recommending farms cease routine use of antibiotics in livestock immediately,[33] but the practice persists. When our ethical compromises pose direct dangers to human health, we are left with little alternative but to acknowledge the relevance of ethics and other issues to production.

What unifies these (and numerous other) threats to agricultural stability is that they are the consequence of a dominant logic that prioritises production with a general disregard for environmental, ethical and other concerns. Agriculture is critical to supporting the growing population, and its outputs cannot be maintained without balancing production with the urgent need for sustainability.

New Ethical Imperatives

Managing future food demand is as important as increasing food supply. To this end, ethics have immense potential to guide consumer decisions toward more sustainable and achievable levels, rendering adequate production levels more attainable. Westernised industrial food processes consume 75 per cent of agricultural resources to feed only 30 per cent of the population,[34] suggesting even small adjustments to Western diets could have a dramatic impact on total resource consumption. Furthermore, the high levels of education and information access in developed countries, home to the most unsustainable diets, make them strong candidates for increased ethical awareness.

Scrutiny of food’s ethical character has markedly intensified since the 1980s, saliently around child labour and fair trade.[35] Korthals suggests this trend began following health-related catastrophes like Dioxin and BSE[*] which encouraged new public awareness of globalised supply chains and food sources,[36] facilitating an increasing ethical element in purchasing decisions.

 These findings contradict the orthodox market rhetoric of large food producers that depict an ethically unconscious population that selects goods based on price, supported by the fact that cheaper, unsustainable products tend to out-perform ‘ethical’ goods. This view curates a benign image of producers obediently catering to consumer preferences, subtly undermining calls for greater ethical standards in production practices. However, empirical sociology and psychology indicate individual attitudes and preferences frequently lack correspondence with behaviour.[37] Contrary to industry voices, price discrepancy does not override ethical beliefs. Rather, consumers do select goods consistent with their ethical values when presented with sufficient information but typically revert to purchasing cheaper goods in the absence of that information.[38] As food information has become more available, Lang discerns a transition from a ‘value for money’ to a ‘values for money’ paradigm of consumer decision making.[39]

Problematically, sustainable production is misaligned with the commercial priorities of many producers for whom overconsumption and unsustainable practices are advantageous from a profit standpoint. Corporate food groups jealously protect favourable narratives justifying higher consumption and invest significant sums opposing transparency.[40] Lobbying against more informative food labelling is commonplace and reflects the industry’s willingness to frustrate attempts to combat ethically damaging or unhealthy consumption patterns to protect profits.[41]

Despite this opposition, consumption ethics has excellent potential for modifying preferences where adequate information is available to individuals. Approaching future food dilemmas as purely a production problem fails to recognise the importance of managing demand as part of the wider challenge.

IV   Conclusion

 

The coming fifty years will be transformational. Human society faces the consequences of broad demographic and environmental transitions which will continue to burden the planet’s productive capacity. Identifying new means to increase that production is imperative, but it cannot be considered so important as to render all other considerations irrelevant. While there are various purposive foundations for increasing food production, to regard equity, ethics, the environment or any other issue irrelevant potentially subverts the very objectives which lead us to consider increasing food production important in the first place. Pursuing production over the next fifty years and beyond depends upon a new approach which these issues as centrally relevant concerns. The alternative is to risk an implosion of our productive capacity. This holistic approach to food supply has never been more critical.

Bibliography

A   Articles/Books/Reports

  • Alexandratos, Nikos, ‘Critical Evaluation of Selected Projections,’ in Piero Conforti (ed) Looking Ahead in World Food and Agriculture (FAO, 2009) 465 <http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2280e/i2280e00.htm>
  • Alexandratos, Nikos and Jelle Brunisma, ‘World Agriculture toward 2030/2050: The 2012 Revision’ (ESA Working Paper No 3, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2012)
  • Arezki, Rabah and Markus Brueckner, ‘Food Prices and Political Instability’ (Working Paper No 62, International Monetary Fund Institute, 2011)
  • Central Intelligence Agency, Field Listing: Urbanisation (July 2018) The World Factbook <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2212.html>
  • Coff, Christian, ‘Ethical Traceability for Improved Transparency in the Food Chain’ in Franz-Theo Gottwald, Hans Werner Ingensiep and Marc Meinhardt (eds) Food Ethics (Springer, 2010) 31
  • Cook, Benjamin, Ron Miller and Richard Seager, ‘Amplification of the North American “Dust Bowl” Drought Through Human-induced Land Degradation’ (2009) 13(106) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 4997
  • Cordell, Dana, Jan-Olof Drangert and Stuart White, ‘The Story of Phosphorus: Global Food Security and Food for Thought’ (2009) 19(2) Global Environmental Change 292
  • Corsi, Marco, ‘Communalism and the Green Revolution in Punjab Journal of Developing Societies’ (2006) 22(2) Journal of Developing Studies 87
  • Courchamp, Frank, Ludek Berec, Joanna Gascoigne, Allee Effects in Ecology and Conservation (Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • Darkoh, Michael B K, ‘The Nature, Causes and Consequences of Desertification in the Drylands of Africa’ (1998) 9 Land Degradation & Development 1
  • Drèze, Jean and Amartya Sen, Hunger and Public Action (Oxford University Press, 1991)
  • Duff, Ernest and John McCamant, ‘Measuring Social and Political Requirements for System Stability in Latin America’ (1968) 62(4) The American Political Science Review 1125
  • Dutta, Swarup, ‘Green Revolution Revisited: The Contemporary Agrarian Situation in Punjab, India’ (2012) 42(2) Social Change 229
  • Feeny, David, Fikret Berkes, Bonnie McCay and James Acheson, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons: Twenty-two Years Later’ (1990) 18(1) Human Ecology 1
  • Fergerson, Jane, ‘20 Million Starving to Death: Inside the Worst Famine Since World War II’, Vox Media (online), 1 June 2017 <https://www.vox.com/world/2017/6/1/15653970/south-sudan-hunger-crisis-famine>
  • Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Livestock’s Long Shadow – Environmental and Issues and Options (FAO, 2006)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Future of Food and Agriculture – Trends and Challenges (FAO, 2017)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Statistics Division (FAOSTAT), Production and Resource STAT Calculators (Livestock Primary) (June 2012) <http://faostat.fao.org/site/569/default.aspx#ancor>
  • Frankel, Francine, The Political Challenge of the Green Revolution (Centre for International Studies, Princeton University, 1972)
  • Ganguly, Rajat, ‘Democracy and Ethnic Conflict’ in Sumit Ganguly, Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner (eds), The State of India’s Democracy (John Hopkins University Press, 2007) 45
  • Gnutzman, Hinnerk and Piotr Spiewanowski, ‘Did the Fertilizer Cartel Cause the Food Crisis?’ (Working Paper No 3, Institute of Economics of the Polish Academy of Science, 2012)
  • Hamilton, Lawrence C and Melissa J Butler, ‘Outport Adaptations: Social Indicators Through Newfoundland’s Cod Crisis’ (2001) 8(2) Research in Human Ecology 1
  • Hardin, Garrett, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ (1968) 162 Science 1243
  • Hobbes, Thomas, Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil (Penguin Classics, first published 1651, 1981 ed)
  • Hornbeck, Richard, ‘The Enduring Impact of the American Dust Bowl: Short- and Long-Run Adjustments to Environmental Catastrophe’ (2012) 102(4) The American Economic Review 1477
  • Kar, Tapan Kumar and Swarnakamal Misra, ‘Optimal Control of a Fishery under Critical Depensation’ (2006) 1 Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 253
  • Korthals, Miciel, ‘Ethics of Food Production and Consumption’ in Ronald J Herring (ed) The Oxford Handbook of Food, Politics and Society (Oxford University Press, 2015) <http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195397772.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195397772-e-022>
  • Lang, Tim and Michael Heasman, Food Wars (Earthscan Books, 2004).
  • Lin, Rongzhen, Shengqiang Liu and Xiaohong Lai, ‘Bifurcations of a Predator-prey System with Weak Allee Effects’ (2013) 50 Journal of the Korean Mathematics Society 695
  • Lipset, Seymour Martin, Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics (Doubleday & Co., 1959)
  • Liu, Yi-Yun, Yang Wang, Timothy R Walsh, Ling-Xian Yi, Rong Zhang, James Spencer, Yohei Doi, Guobao Tian, Baolei Dong, Xianhui Huang, Lin-Feng Yu, Danxia Gu, Hongwei Ren, Xiaojie Chen, Luchao Lv, Dandan He, Hongwei Zhou, Zisen Liang, Jian-Hua Liu, Jianzhong Shen,‘Emergence of Plasmid-Mediated Colistin Resistance Mechanism MCR-1 in Animals and Human Beings in China: A Microbiological and Molecular Biological Study’ (2015) 16(2) Lancet Infectious Diseases 161
  • Magnusson, Roger, ‘Obesity Prevention and Personal Responsibility: The Case of Front-of-pack Food Labelling in Australia’ (2010) 10 BMC Public Health 662.
  • Malthus, Thomas, An Essay on the Principle of Population, (Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, first published 1798, 1998 ed)
  • Murawski, Steven A, ‘Rebuilding Depleted Fish Stocks: The Good, the Bad, and, Mostly, The Ugly’ (2010) 67(9) ICES Journal of Marine Science 1830
  • Nestle, Marion, Food Politics: How Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (University of California Press, 2002)
  • Puri, Harish K, ‘The Akali Agitation, An Analysis of Socio-Economic Bases of Protest’ (1983) 18(4) Economic and Political Weekly 113
  • Qinn, Terrance, Quantitative Fish Dynamics, (Oxford University Press, 1999)
  • Rawls, John, The Law of Peoples with “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited” (Harvard University Press, 1999) 64
  • Ricardo, David, On Protection to Agriculture (Kessinger Publishing, first printed 1822, 2010 ed)
  • Rosset, Peter, Food is Different – Why We Must Get the WTO Out of Agriculture (Zed Books, 2006)
  • Science Communication Unit, University of the West of England, Science for Environment Policy In-depth Report: Sustainable Phosphorus Use (Report produced for the European Commission DG Environment, October 2013) 13 <http://ec.europa.eu/science-environment-policy>
  • Shell, Ellen Ruppel, The Hungry Gene (Atlantic Books, 2002).
  • Sen, Amartya, ‘The Food Problem: Theory and Policy’ (1982) 4(3) Third World Quarterly 447
  • Shiva, Vandana, The Violence of the Green Revolution: Third World Agriculture, Ecology and Politics (Kentucky University Press, 2016)
  • Singer, Peter, Animal Liberation (New York Review of Books, 1990)
  • Singh, Sukhpal ‘Crisis in Punjab Agriculture’ (2000) 35(23) Economic and Political Weekly 1889
  • Smil, Vaclav, ‘Phosphorus in the Environment: Natural Flows and Human Interferences (2000) 25 Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 53
  • Smith, Adam, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Methuen & Co, first published 1776, 1904 ed)
  • Steen, Ingrid, ‘Phosphorus Availability in the 21st Century: Management of a Non-renewable Resource’ (1998) 217 Phosphorous & Potassium 25
  • Weiss, Tony, The Global Food Economy: The Battle for the Future of Farming (Zed Books, 2007)
  • Weiss, Tony, ‘The Meat of the Global Food Crisis’ (2013) 40(1) The Journal of Peasant Studies 65

B   Other

  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, opened for signature 16 December 1966, 993 UNTS  3 (entered into force 3 January 1976) art 11(1)
  • United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, GA Res 217A (III), UN GAOR, 3rd sess, 183rd plen mtg, UN Doc A/810 (10 December 1948) art 25(1)
  • World Health Organisation (WTO), ‘Stop Using Antibiotics in Healthy Animals to Prevent the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance’ (News Release, 7 November 2017) <http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/07-11-2017-stop-using-antibiotics-in-healthy-animals-to-prevent-the-spread-of-antibiotic-resistance>

[1]  See, eg, John Rawls, The Law of Peoples with “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited” (Harvard University Press, 1999) 64; United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, GA Res 217A (III), UN GAOR, 3rd sess, 183rd plen mtg, UN Doc A/810 (10 December 1948) art 25(1); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, opened for signature 16 December 1966, 993 UNTS  3 (entered into force 3 January 1976) art 11(1).

[2]  See, eg, Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Methuen & Co, first published 1776, 1904 ed); Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, (Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, first published 1798, 1998 ed); David Ricardo, On Protection to Agriculture (Kessinger Publishing, first printed 1822, 2010 ed) 234 – 235.

[3]  Nikos Alexandratos and Jelle Brunisma, ‘World Agriculture toward 2030/2050: The 2012 Revision’ (ESA Working Paper No 3, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2012).

[4]  Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen, Hunger and Public Action (Oxford University Press, 1991).

[5]  Jane Fergerson, ‘20 Million Starving to Death: Inside the Worst Famine Since World War II’, Vox Media (online), 1 June 2017 <https://www.vox.com/world/2017/6/1/15653970/south-sudan-hunger-crisis-famine>.

[6]  Drèze and Sen, above n 4.

[7]  Central Intelligence Agency, Field Listing: Urbanisation (July 2018) The World Factbook <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2212.html>.

[8]  Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil (Penguin Classics, first published 1651, 1981 ed).

[9]  Seymour Martin Lipset, Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics (Doubleday & Co, 1959) ch 3.

[10]  Ernest Duff and John McCamant, ‘Measuring Social and Political Requirements for System Stability in Latin America’ (1968) 62(4) The American Political Science Review 1125.

[11]  Rabah Arezki and Markus Brueckner, ‘Food Prices and Political Instability’ (Working Paper No 62, International Monetary Fund Institute, 2011).

[12]  Malthus, above n 2, 44.

[*]   The rapid adoption of high yielding mechanised and chemical agriculture throughout the mid twentieth century.

[13]  Vandana Shiva, The Violence of the Green Revolution: Third World Agriculture, Ecology and Politics (Kentucky University Press, 2016).

[14]  Harish K Puri, ‘The Akali Agitation: An Analysis of Socio-Economic Bases of Protest’ (1983) 18(4) Economic and Political Weekly 113; Sukhpal Singh ‘Crisis in Punjab Agriculture’ (2000) 35(23) Economic and Political Weekly 1889.

[15]  Marco Corsi, ‘Communalism and the Green Revolution in Punjab Journal of Developing Societies’ (2006) 22(2) Journal of Developing Studies 87.

[16]  See especially Corsi, above n 15; Swarup Dutta, ‘Green Revolution Revisited: The Contemporary Agrarian Situation in Punjab, India’ (2012) 42(2) Social Change 229; Shiva, above n 13; Rajat Ganguly, ‘Democracy and Ethnic Conflict’ in Sumit Ganguly, Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner (eds), The State of India’s Democracy (John Hopkins University Press, 2007) 45, 56.

[17]  Shiva, above n 13, 174–175.

[18]  Francine Frankel, The Political Challenge of the Green Revolution (Centre for International Studies, Princeton University, 1972) 4.

[19]  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Future of Food and Agriculture – Trends and Challenges (FAO, 2017) 46.

[20]  Tony Weiss, ‘The Meat of the Global Food Crisis’ (2013) 40(1) The Journal of Peasant Studies 65.

[21]  Benjamin Cook, Ron Miller and Richard Seager, ‘Amplification of the North American “Dust Bowl” Drought Through Human-induced Land Degradation’ (2009) 13(106) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 4997; Richard Hornbeck, ‘The Enduring Impact of the American Dust Bowl: Short- and Long-Run Adjustments to Environmental Catastrophe’ (2012) 102(4) The American Economic Review 1477.

[22]  Michael B K Darkoh, ‘The Nature, Causes and Consequences of Desertification in the Drylands of Africa’ (1998) 9 Land Degradation & Development 1.

[23]  Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Livestock’s Long Shadow – Environmental and Issues and Options (FAO, 2006) xxi.

[24]  FAO, above n 19, 5.

[25]  Nikos Alexandratos, ‘Critical Evaluation of Selected Projections,’ in Piero Conforti (ed), Looking Ahead in World Food and Agriculture (FAO, 2009) 465 <http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2280e/i2280e00.htm>.

[26]  Peter Rosset, Food is Different – Why We Must Get the WTO Out of Agriculture (Zed Books, 2006).

[27]  Ingrid Steen, ‘Phosphorus Availability in the 21st Century: Management of a Non-renewable Resource’ (1998) 217 Phosphorous & Potassium 25; Vaclav Smil, ‘Phosphorus in the Environment: Natural Flows and Human Interferences (2000) 25 Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 53; Dana Cordell, Jan-Olof Drangert and Stuart White, ‘The Story of Phosphorus: Global Food Security and Food for Thought’ (2009) 19(2) Global Environmental Change 292.

[28]  Hinnerk Gnutzman and Piotr Spiewanowski, ‘Did the Fertilizer Cartel Cause the Food Crisis?’ (Working Paper No 3, Institute of Economics of the Polish Academy of Science, 2012).

[29]  Science Communication Unit, University of the West of England, Science for Environment Policy In-depth Report: Sustainable Phosphorus Use (Report produced for the European Commission DG Environment, October 2013) 13 <http://ec.europa.eu/science-environment-policy>; Cordell, Drangert and White, above n 27.

[30]  Tony Weiss, The Global Food Economy: The Battle for the Future of Farming (Zed Books, 2007).

[31]  Weiss, above n 20, citing Food and Agriculture Organization Statistics Division (FAOSTAT), Production and Resource STAT Calculators (Livestock Primary) (June 2012) <http://faostat.fao.org/site/569/default.aspx#ancor>.

[32]  Yi-Yun Liu et al, ‘Emergence of Plasmid-Mediated Colistin Resistance Mechanism MCR-1 in Animals and Human Beings in China: A Microbiological and Molecular Biological Study’ (2015) 16(2) Lancet Infectious Diseases 161.

[33]  World Health Organisation (WTO), ‘Stop Using Antibiotics in Healthy Animals to Prevent the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance’ (News Release, 7 November 2017) <http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/07-11-2017-stop-using-antibiotics-in-healthy-animals-to-prevent-the-spread-of-antibiotic-resistance>.

[34]  ETC Group, Who Will Feed Us? The Industrial Food Chain vs. The Peasant Food Web (ETC, 2017) 6.

[35]  Miciel Korthals, ‘Ethics of Food Production and Consumption’ in Ronald J Herring (ed), The Oxford Handbook of Food, Politics and Society (Oxford University Press, 2015) <http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195397772.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195397772-e-022>.

[*]  Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, better known as ‘mad cow’ disease.

[36]  Korthals, above n 35.

[37]  Christian Coff, ‘Ethical Traceability for Improved Transparency in the Food Chain’ in Franz-Theo Gottwald, Hans Werner Ingensiep and Marc Meinhardt (eds), Food Ethics (Springer, 2010) 31.

[38]  Korthals, above n 35.

[39]  Tim Lang and Michael Heasman, Food Wars (Earthscan Books, 2004).

[40]  Marion Nestle, Food Politics: How Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (University of California Press, 2002); Ellen Ruppel Shell, The Hungry Gene (Atlantic Books, 2002).

[41]  Roger Magnusson, ‘Obesity Prevention and Personal Responsibility: The Case of Front-of-pack Food Labelling in Australia’ (2010) 10 BMC Public Health 662.

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