Political Economy of Food

‘Poverty has increased more in countries that have liberalized’ (A Row to Hoe). This statement perfectly encapsulates the dual nature of trade liberalization, deregulation and privatization of Third World food systems. Although initially intended to “free markets” and accrue benefits to all due to comparative advantage, free trade has morphed into a manipulative tool employed by developed economies to secure markets for their own excess produce. This in turn exacerbates the weaknesses in an already crippling food sector for third world economies, driving them towards greater reliance on imports, perpetuating the cycle of unemployment, debt and deficit.
Food security is defined in the terms: “food is available at all times, that all persons have means of access to it, that it is nutritionally adequate in terms of quality, quantity, and variety, and that is acceptable within the given culture” (A Row to Hoe, 7). Given the fact that the number of hungry people in the world is rising by 4 million per year, yet there is enough food grown worldwide to provide 4.3 pounds of food per person per day suggests that this is a surmountable problem. The solution provided by proponents of trade liberalization is that “increased food supply through food imports that support domestic production and add value to existing food chains will strengthen food security” (A Row to Hoe, 9). For all intents and purposes, this policy does seem plausible. Equitable food commodity chains should in fact relay raw materials within and to nations so that they can each individually benefit from imports, utilizing basic raw materials individual and unique to their agricultural sector. This unfortunately is not the case with trade liberalization.
The first problem with deregulation is that bureaucratic structures in developing countries have been subjected to “amendment (or more usually, abolition)” (A Row to Hoe, 13). Owing to the fact that most developing countries have small scale subsistence...