Tag Archives: trade policy

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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Seasons of Resistance: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Cuba (C.G. Gonzalez)

Author

Carmen G. Gonzalez (Seattle University, USA)

Keywords

Sustainability, comparative law, Cuba, food security, agricultural policy, trade policy, environmental law, agricultural law, political economy, colonialism, post-colonial studies

Abstract

Beginning in the mid-1990s, Cuba embarked upon a transformation of the agricultural sector that has been hailed by some observers as a model of socially equitable and ecologically sustainable agriculture. Cuba shifted from an export-oriented, chemical-intensive agricultural development strategy to one that promoted organic agriculture and encouraged production for the domestic market.

This article places Cuba’s agricultural reforms in historical context by examining the evolution of Cuban agriculture from the colonial period until the present through the lens of food security and ecological sustainability. The article argues that Cuba, for most of its history, was food insecure and ecologically compromised as a consequence of its dependence on one agricultural commodity (sugar) to generate the bulk of foreign exchange revenues, its reliance on imports to satisfy domestic food needs, its dependence on one primary trading partner (initially Spain, subsequently the United States and the Soviet Union), and its adoption of capital-intensive, chemical-dependent agricultural production techniques. When the collapse of the socialist trading bloc in 1990 plunged the Cuba economy into a state of crisis, the Cuban government implemented as series of reforms that diversified Cuba’s economic base, diversified the range of crops cultivated, prioritized domestic food production, and promoted organic and semi-organic farming techniques. The article concludes that these reforms enhanced food security and ecological sustainability, but questions whether they will survive the lifting of the U.S. economic embargo and the reintegration of Cuba into global trade and financial institutions.

Citation

(2003) 16 Tulane Environmental Law Journal 685

Paper

Seasons of Resistance: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Cuba

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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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Genetically Modified Organisms and Justice (C.G. Gonzalez)

Author

Carmen G. Gonzalez ( Seattle University , USA )

Keywords

WTO, environmental justice, trade policy, international law, trade law, environmental law, development law, food security, genetically modified organisms, agricultural law, humanrights law, SPS Agreement, biosafety

Abstract

In September 2006, a WTO dispute settlement panel issued its long-awaited decision in favor of the United States in the dispute between the U.S. and the European Union over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The ruling was based on narrow procedural grounds, and did not resolve the controversy over the safety of GMOs, over the right of countries to regulate GMOs more stringently than conventional products, or over the consistency of the EU’s GMO regulatory regime with WTO requirements. The debate over GMOs continues unabated. Unfortunately, the high profile dispute between the U.S. and the EU has eclipsed the important debate in the developing world over the socioeconomic implications of this technology. While scientific uncertainty continues to impede efforts to reach consensus on the human health and environmental impacts of GMOs, the socioeconomic perils of biotechnology in developing countries are becoming increasingly evident. Regrettably, the trade and environmental agreements governing the transboundary movement of GMOs privilege science as the arbiter of trade disputes to the exclusion of other forms of normative discourse. With limited exceptions, socioeconomic considerations may not be used to justify GMO trade restrictions. Using environmental justice as an analytical framework, this article examines the unique risks and benefits of biotechnology for developing countries, and places the debate over biotechnology in the context of the historic and ongoing controversy between developed and developing countries over the rules governing trade in conventional agricultural products. It concludes by proposing alternative regulatory strategies designed to ensure that international trade law promotes rather than frustrates environmental protection, the human right to food, and the promotion of sustainable economic development.

Citation

(2007) 19 Georgetown International Environmental Law Review 583

Paper

Genetically Modified Organisms and Justice: The International Environmental Justice Implications of Biotechnology

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