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The Food Wars Paperback – September 25, 2009

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1844673315 ISBN-10: 1844673316 Edition: Original

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Editorial Reviews


“Walden Bello is the world’s leading no-nonsense revolutionary.”—Naomi Klein

“Walden Bello is the world’s best guide to American exploitation of the globe’s poor and defenseless.”—Chalmers Johnson

The Food Wars is brilliant and urgently needed ... Walden Bello’s ethically grounded argument for food sovereignty, deglobalization and listening to what peasants have to say is essential reading.”—Annette Desmarais, La Via Campesina

“A comprehensive and timely corrective to agribusiness-as-usual scenarios for solving the food crisis ... His solutions are compelling and critical for planetary sustainability.”—Philip McMichael

About the Author

Walden Bello is a political activist and Professor of Sociology and Public Administration at the University of the Philippines in Manila, as well as executive director of Focus on the Global South, a policy research institute based in Bangkok and for which he was the Founding Director. He was previously executive director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) in Oakland, California and was educated at Princeton University. He has taught at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2003, Bello was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, whose website describes him as “one of the leading critics of the current model of economic globalization, combining the roles of intellectual and activist.” Bello is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute (based in Amsterdam), and is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. In March 2008 he was named Outstanding Public Scholar for 2008 by the International Studies Association. Bello is the author of Deglobalization: Ideas for a New Global Economy, Dark Victory: The United States and Global Poverty and Dilemmas of Domination: The Unmaking of the American Empire.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; Original edition (September 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844673316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844673315
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #981,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tom Mertes on October 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Walden Bello has once again produced a tour de force that overturns the conventional "wisdom" of elites in the Global North. In The Food Wars, he explores the food price spike in the first half of 2008 and contends that the international economy could be in store for more of the same. He refutes the commonly held theory that increases in demand, specifically from Asia, are the main causes for the price rises. Moreover, he debunks the arguments that supply shortages can be attributed to the banning of genetically modified organisms, the lack of more commercial farming in Africa and the production of grasses and grains for "biofuels". Rather, Bello locates the problems in the structure of the international economy itself. More to the point, the neoliberal agricultural regime encourages monoculture, petroleum-based production (fertilizers and long supply chains), corporate-dominated seed and pesticide providers, government subsidies in the Global North, and futures speculation. The regime forces small producers off the land and is unsustainable. Moreover, he outlines how many governments in the Global South implemented policies that removed subsidies to farmers, agricultural cooperatives, seed banks and a host of other salutary policies in response to International Monetary Fund and World Bank advice (often as part of loan conditionalities). As the World Trade Organization (WTO) replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, food production came to be less and less a community, regional or nation-based practice and increasingly became the hostage of international trade. The Northern American Free Trade Agreement was a precursor to the WTO and Bello explores its effects on Mexico (for example, 1.3 million farmers were driven off their farms).Read more ›
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on April 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
Walden Bello returns in this essay to his favorite and mightily important themes of the world's economic (dis)order, national sovereignty, the immense chasm between the haves and the have-nots and the control by the haves of major international organisms (WTO, IMF, World Bank) in order to further their economic stranglehold on the defenseless.

International and national hypocrisy at a heavy cost for the victims
Through `structural adjustment' policies, international organizations like the IMF and the WTO, starved local agriculture of State support (fertilizer subsidies, price controls, food quotas and tariffs) in Africa, South-America and Asia. Under the cloak of `free markets', they killed the local peasantry by forcing the small farmers out of the production process, while favoring international food conglomerates. A number of food self-sufficient countries became net food importers instead of net exporters (Mexico for corn, the Philippines for rice).
Living standard inequalities worldwide didn't diminish as promised, but grew instead. In Africa, the number of people living on less than a dollar a day doubled.
Walden Bello stigmatizes those countries who control those organizations and the international food scene as cynical hypocrites using double standards by imposing free trade on the rest of the world, while in the meantime protecting and subsidizing their own national producers.

Local v. global food production
W. Bello's drastic solution for stemming the bleeding is deglobalization: production of `healthy' diversified food for local markets (self-sufficiency) thereby assuring national food sovereignty and security.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S Wood on March 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Director of Focus on the Global South and professor of Sociology at the University of the Philippines, Walden Bello has written an excellent introduction on the international politics of food. Written just after the rocketing food prices of 2006 to 2008 he identifies the roots of the crisis in the "free" trade agreements and Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP's) that have destroyed third world food sovereignty under a barrage of subsidised exports from the 1st world, destruction of government support for domestic agriculture in the 3rd world, orientating agriculture away from fulfilling domestic demand to that of export markets, the sundering of the peasantry and rural population from the land when the main alternative is life in the burgeoning third world slums, with little prospect of paid work.

Bello also looks at one of the most popular books on the subject, Peter Collier's The Bottom Billion, which is characterised as being the orthodox approach. Collier identifies the causes of the food crisis as (i) rising prosperity in China and India, (ii) governments being lacklustre in their support of commercial farming in Africa, (iii) the failure to make use of GM crops, and (iv) the growing consumption of agricultural land and produce by the bio-fuels industry. Bello is sceptical about the effect of the first point, on the second and third he is deeply critical. Only the last point is deemed to have had an effect on the price of food, and is regarded by Bello as a worrying development that has a potential to have disastrous effects if it continues it's growth.
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