Food Systems Failure: The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture (Hardback) book cover

Food Systems Failure

The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture

Edited by Christopher Rosin, Paul Stock, Hugh Campbell

© 2012 – Routledge

242 pages

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This book provides a critical assessment of the contemporary global food system in light of the heightening food crisis, as evidence of its failure to achieve food security for the world's population. A key aspect of this failure is identified in the neoliberal strategies which emphasize industrial efficiencies, commodity production and free trade-ideologies that underlie agricultural and food policies in what are frequently referred to as 'developed countries'.

The book examines both the contradictions in the global food system as well as the implications of existing ideologies of production associated with commodity industrial agriculture using evidence from relevant international case studies. The book's first section presents the context of the food crisis with contributions from leading international academics and food policy activists, including climate scientists, ecologists and social scientists. These contributions identify current contradictions in policy and practice that impede solutions to the food crisis. Set within this context, the second section assesses current conditions in the global food system, including economic viability, sustainability and productivity. Case study analyses of regions exposed to neoliberal policy at the production end of the system provide insights into both current challenges to feeding the world, as well as alternative strategies for creating a more just and moral food system.


"Using a variety of approaches in their critical assessment of the global food system, these authors all share the common perspective that it requires radical change. They argue that the recent food price crises are indicative of wider problems in the global food system as a whole, and provide evidence for the urgent need to shift away from business-as-usual to avoid an increasingly dire global food situation."Food Ethics, the magazine of the Food Ethics Council

"The collection is excellent in its identification of the key problems with the current agrifood system, and provides ample illustration of the human and environmental costs of keeping business-as-usual afloat."Anna Krzywoszynska, PhD, Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Department of Geography, Durham University

Table of Contents

Prologue: Food Security – Now is the Future

Robert Watson

1. Introduction: Shocking the Global Food System

Christopher Rosin, Paul Stock and Hugh Campbell

2. Agriculture and Food Systems: Our Current Challenge

Jules Pretty

3. Let Us Eat Cake? Historically Reframing the Problem of World Hunger and its Purported Solutions

Hugh Campbell

4. Trading into Hunger? Trading out of Hunger? International Food Trade and the Debate on Food Security

Bill Pritchard

5. Biofuels and the Financialisation of the Global Food System

Philip McMichael

6. The Right to Food: A Right for Everyone

Claire Mahon

7. Plentiful Food? Nutritious Food?

Colin Butler and Jane Dixon

8. A Utopian Perspective on Global Food Security

Paul Stock and Michael Carolan

9. Climate Change and the Resilience of Commodity Food Production in Australia

Geoffrey Lawrence, Carol Richards, Ian Gray and Naomi Hansar

10. Food Security and the De-Agrarianisation of the Indonesian Economy

Jeff Neilson and Bustanul Arifin

11. ‘Soyisation’ and Food Security in South America

Navé Wald, Christopher Rosin and Doug Hill

12. Negotiating Organic, Fair and Ethical Trade: Lessons from Smallholders in Uganda and Kenya

Kristen Lyons and Kiah Smith

13. Food for Thought? Linking Up Urban Agriculture and Local Food Production for Food Security and Development in the South Pacific

Alec Thornton

14. Conclusions: Towards a More Just and Flexible Global Food System

Christopher Rosin, Paul Stock and Hugh Campbell

About the Editors

Christopher Rosin is a Research Fellow and Deputy Directory with the Centre for Sustainability: Agriculture, Food, Energy, Environment (CSAFE) at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. His primary research interest is in the social negotiation of sustainability in the agricultural sector.

Paul Stock is a Lecturer in Sociology and a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Centre for Sustainability: Agriculture, Food, Energy, Environment (CSAFE) at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Paul’s current research interests include the social and cultural aspects of agriculture, the intersection of morality and the environment, and the Catholic Worker movement.

Hugh Campbell is Professor of Sociology and was formerly Director of the Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. His research interests include rural sociology, sustainable agriculture, neoliberalism and agrifood governance, food waste, masculinity and rural gender.

About the Series

Earthscan Food and Agriculture

Earthscan Food and Agriculture
This series includes a wide range of inter-disciplinary approaches to food and agriculture, integrating perspectives from both social and natural sciences. It includes textbooks, research monographs and titles aimed at professionals, NGOs and policy-makers. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Tim Hardwick, Senior Commissioning Editor (

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Environmental Science