Subsidies, Trade, and the Broken Food System

Source: Gates Foundation, Creative Commons Licensed

You have probably heard about it before: The Broken Food System. Our world’s ability to produce a surplus of food, juxtaposed with our inability to feed all the world’s people.

Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world every year intended for human consumption gets lost or wasted.

If just one-fourth of the food currently wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed the 870 million hungry people in the world.

How does this happen?

In a recent report, Oxfam has laid out several reasons. These include the intense pressure on agriculture from climate change, ecological degradation, population growth, rising energy prices, rising demand for meat and dairy products, and competition for land from biofuels, industry, and urbanization.

Yet one specifically interesting reason for structural hunger and inequality in the food system comes from its design.  The unfair trade rules and domestic protectionist policies have “rigged” the rules of the game in favor of the rich, at the expense of the poor.  These unjust policies have brought the food system to its breaking point.

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