Tag Archives: IMF

The Global Food System, Environmental Protection, and Human Rights (C Gonzalez)

Author

Carmen G. Gonzalez

Keywords

Human rights law, food security, food sovereignty, right to food, biodiversity, WTO, trade policy, international environmental law, IMF, World Bank, international law, climate change, biofuels, agricultural law, international trade law, political economy

Abstract

The global food system is exceeding ecological limits while failing to meet the nutritional needs of a large segment of the world’s population. While law could play an important role in facilitating the transition to a more just and ecologically sustainable food system, the current legal framework fails to regulate food and agriculture in an integrated manner. The international legal framework governing food and agriculture is fragmented into three self-contained regimes that have historically operated in isolation from one another: international human rights law, international environmental law, and international trade law. International trade law has taken precedence over human rights and international environmental law to the detriment of small farmers and the environment. The article analyzes the international legal regime applicable to food and agriculture, explains the ways in which the current regime perpetuates food insecurity and unsustainable cultivation practices, and argues that agriculture should be removed from the purview of the World Trade Organization. The article concludes by sketching out some of the elements of an alternative approach to global governance based on the concept of food sovereignty.

Citation

Natural Resources & Environment, Vol. 26, No. 3, Winter 2012
Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 12-12

Publication

The Global Food System, Environmental Protection, and Human Rights

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Markets, Monocultures, and Malnutrition: Agricultural Trade Policy Through an Environmental Justice Lens (C.G. Gonzalez)

Author

Carmen C. Gonzalez (Seattle University, USA)

Keywords

WTO, environmental justice, trade policy, IMF, World Bank, structural adjustment, international law, trade law, environmental law, development law, food security, agricultural law, human rights law

Abstract

The article posits that environmental justice must be understood to encompass equitable access to environmental necessities (such as food and water) as well as the minimization and equitable distribution of environmental hazards. Based upon this conception of environmental justice, the article examines the complex ways in which the rules governing international trade in agricultural products affect the fundamental human right to food. The article argues that colonialism and post-colonial trade, aid and development policies have created and institutionalized a double standard in the regulatory regime governing international agricultural trade: protectionism in wealthy, developed countries; trade liberalization in poor, developing countries. As a consequence of this double standard, agribusiness in the developed world is wreaking havoc on the livelihoods of poor farmers in the developing world by dumping agricultural products on world markets at depressed prices. “Leveling the playing field” by imposing the same free market reforms on rich and poor nations is not sufficient to address the underlying structural inequities that perpetuate poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation. The article proposes an asymmetrical set of trading rules that would require developed countries to eliminate agricultural protectionism while giving developing countries the policy flexibility to use certain protectionist instruments to promote economic development, enhance food security, and protect the environment. The article concludes with observations about the meaning of environmental justice at the international level.

Citation

(2006) 14 Michigan State University College of Law Journal of International Law 345

Paper

Markets, Monocultures, and Malnutrition: Agricultural Trade Policy Through an Environmental Justice Lens

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