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Lecture 12

Food Security (WHO)

Providing access at all times to
- enough
- sufficient
- safe
- nutritious
food, to allow people to maintain healthy and active lives
Case for Agri-Business & Free Trade
Only so much food because
- modern technologies
- long distance trade
Majority of malnourished people Africa & South Asia
- self-sufficient subsistence farmers
- rural landless laborers
Dramatic increase in overall food production mandatory
- rapid pop growth
- increased standards of living
1. Food Security - History
- humans
o wars
o ethnic and religious persecutions
o price controls
o protectionism
o excessive taxation
o lack of respect of private property rights
- nature
o unseasonable heat or cold
o excessive or insufficient rainfall
o floods
o pests (insects, rodents & pathogens)
o soil degradation
o epidemics (farmers or beasts of burden)
- typically > 1 cause at work
- 2 consecutive bad harvests
Food Security in Subsistence Agriculture (Recap)
- multiple crops/ animals (> resilience against specific problems, but
useless against general problems droughts, floods, etc)
- cultivate different patches of land whenever possible (different sides of
a hill, etc)

Coping with Famine in More Advanced Societies

Worldwide Answers:
- charitable giving
- emigration (typically to cities)
Political authorities
- call upon heavenly assistance
- expel strangers
- identify scapegoats (speculators and hoarders, preferably from diff
ethnic/religious backgrounds)
Wealthy individuals
- reduce discretionary spending
- tap into or stop accumulating savings
Less wealthy individuals
- temporarily lowering their food intake
- sell whatever they could (from farm animals to children)
Famines first defeated for good in Netherlands/England 17th century
- more productive agriculture (monocultures)
- international trade
Public Granaries
Basical rationale:
- filled in good years/harvest seasons
- emptied in bad/lean ones
in order to soften
- hunger cycles
- price spikes
Food Desert
Definition: area in advanced economies where healthy and affordable food is
difficult to obtain
2. Trade Barriers
- any government policy or regulation that restricts international trade
- import duties
- export duties
- export licenses
- import quotas
- tariffs
- subsidies
- non-tariff barriers to trade
- voluntary export restraints

- local content requirements

Basic principle of trade barrier: imposition of some sort of cost on trade that
raises the price of the foreign products
Trade war: when 2 or more nations repeatedly use trade barriers against
each other
Main argument against trade barrier: absolute and/or comparative
3. Food Safety
Food Safety/Cross Contamination on the Farm
Is your manure stored uphill from your vegetable field? Could it be a source
of contamination for these vegetables?
Do you change your clothing and footwear as you move from handling your
livestock to working with your livestock?
Are you and/or your staff washing their hands well before handling fruits and
Do farm visitors follow practices that will prevent them from spreading food
pathogens from your livestock area to your
vegetable/fields/orchards/picking/packing areas?