Food Security in a Global Age: Addressing Challenges from Malnutrition, Food Safety and Environmental Change

Bryan McDonald

University of California, Irvine

Richard A. Matthew

affiliation not provided to SSRN


APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper

This paper examines the threats and vulnerabilities of the emerging network of global food systems to characterize present challenges to food security. Over the past few decades, local, regional, and national food systems have increasingly become intertwined in an emerging global food network, a complex web of relations that include the production, harvest, processing, transport, and consumption of food. The emerging shape of this global food network does not map onto many of the traditional political science models of the world such as developed and developing countries. Today there are malnourished people in both developed and developing counties, and all over the globe there are pockets of both abundance and scarcity. This paper considers the impacts that changes that science, technology, and mobility have had on global food systems. In this paper, we explore food security, using the recent global food price crisis as an example of the complex, multi-causal, and networked based phenomena that are transforming the global security landscape by creating new sources of threat and vulnerability. The first section of the paper provides a definition of food security and considers the current and historical relevance of food to security. Next, we provide an overview of key disruptors, or unexpected destabilizing factors, of food security including malnutrition (which manifests as undernutrition and micronutrient deficiency as well as overweight and obesity) and food safety. In the paper’s fourth section, we review the rise of a global network of food systems and implications of this network for food security. The fifth section assesses the 2007-2008 global food price crisis. Finally, the paper concludes with some thoughts on food security of in an age of transnational threats and converging crises.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: Food Security, Food Safety, Global Environmental Change, Human Security

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Date posted: August 13, 2009 ; Last revised: August 22, 2009

Suggested Citation

McDonald, Bryan and Matthew, Richard A., Food Security in a Global Age: Addressing Challenges from Malnutrition, Food Safety and Environmental Change (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1449358

Contact Information

Bryan McDonald (Contact Author)
University of California, Irvine ( email )
Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States
Richard A. Matthew
affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )
Feedback to SSRN

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