The Global Food Economy: The Battle for the Future of Farming

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This book sets out some answers to the question: how can we build an ecologically sustainable and humane system of food production and distribution? The modern food economy is a paradox. Surplus 'food mountains' sit alongside global malnutrition and the developed world subsidizes its own agriculture while pressurizing the developing world to liberalize at all costs. Export competition is increasingly aggressive whilst the reliance on imports in many countries has worrying implications for food security. Family farms go out of business and dispossessed peasant farmers are driven into urban slums. The WTO's uneven application of neoliberal economics to food production is relatively new, and the consequences of mounting deficits, rising 'food miles', and social upheaval, are untested but ominous.

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While Weis has lots of good statistics his presentation of modern farming, especially American Midwestern farming, leaves a lot to be desired. From the descriptions he cherry picks to the laws he chooses to ignore about animal feeding it is clear this book is incredibly biased. He is a fan of big words and even bigger sentences. Weis does a great job of illustrating how national agricultural corporations have come into power but he frames it so a reader who knows nothing of agriculture would think they are evil and out solely for profit, the producer and land be damned. His descriptions of modern animal farming leave a lot to be desired if you have ever been on a farm and he does little to mention that GMOs have had tons of research, mostly independent, that verify they are safe; nor does he talk about how Mark Lynas, the man behind the anti-GMO EU, has changed his position on them. Great read if you are setting out to hate the "agro-industrial grain-livestock complex" or already do, but it is too biased for me to want to recommend it to anyone. 


The temperate grainlivestock complex
From colonialism to global market integration
The battle for the future of farming

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About the author (2007)

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).