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Climate Change, Food Security, and Agrobiodiversity: Toward a Just, Resilient, and Sustainable Food System

30 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2011 Last revised: 26 Feb 2014

Carmen G. Gonzalez

Seattle University School of Law

Date Written: February 7, 2011

Abstract

The global food system is in a state of profound crisis. Decades of misguided aid, trade and production policies have resulted in an unprecedented erosion of agrobiodiversity that renders the world’s food supply vulnerable to catastrophic crop failure in the event of drought, heavy rains, and outbreaks of pests and disease. Climate change threatens to wreak additional havoc on food production by increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, depressing agricultural yields, reducing the productivity of the world’s fisheries, and placing pressure on scarce water resources. Furthermore, the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis are occurring at a time of rising global food insecurity. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that the number of chronically undernourished people in the world reached a peak of 1.02 billion people in 2009 – a figure that represents one sixth of humanity.

This article examines the underlying causes of the crises in the global food system, and recommends specific measures that might be adopted to address the distinct but related problems of food insecurity, loss of agrobiodiversity, and climate change. The article concludes that the root cause of the crises confronting the global food system is corporate domination of the food supply and the systemic destruction of local food systems that are healthy, ecologically sustainable, and socially just. The article argues that small-scale sustainable agriculture has the potential to address the interrelated climate, food, and agrobiodiversity crises, and suggests specific measures that the international community might take through law and regulation to promote the transition to a more just, resilient, and sustainable food system.

Keywords: Climate Change, Food Security, Biodiversity, WTO, International Trade Law, Environmental Law, Colonialism, IMF, World Bank, International Law, Agricultural Law, Political Economy

JEL Classification: F13, F18, F54, Q17, Q56, N50, O24, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Gonzalez, Carmen G., Climate Change, Food Security, and Agrobiodiversity: Toward a Just, Resilient, and Sustainable Food System (February 7, 2011). Fordham Environmental Law Review, Vol. 22, p. 493, 2011; Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 11-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1756914

Carmen G. Gonzalez (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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