Food is Different

Why We Must Get the WTO out of Agriculture

Peter M. Rosset


This book explains what is happening to the world's agricultural systems and their farmers under the impact of neoliberal economics.
Why does our global food system gives us expensive, unhealthy and bad-tasting food, where we pay more for packaging and long-distance shipping than we do for the food itself? Why do farmers and peasants from around the world lead massive protests each and every time the World Trade Organization meets?

Peter Rosset explains how the runaway free trade policies and neoliberal economics of the WTO, American government and European Union kill farmers, and give us a food system that nobody outside of a small corporate elite wants. This essential guide sets out an alternative vision for agricultural policy, taking it completely out of the WTO's ambit. Food is not just another commodity, to be bought and sold like a microchip, but something which goes to the heart of human livelihood, culture and society.

Author Bio

Peter Rosset is a food rights activist and agro-ecologist. He is based in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he is a researcher at the Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano (Center for Studies of Rural Change in Mexico), and co-coordinator of the Land Research Action Network. He is also Global Alternatives Associate of the Center for the Study of the Americas and is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management of the University of California.

Table of Contents

  • Prologue: Speak the Truth: Exclude the WTO from Agriculture, by Lee Kyung Hae
  • Foreword: Farmers Around the World Lose out Under the WTO, by George Naylor
  • Introduction: Trade versus Development?
  • 1. Trade Negotiations and Trade Liberalization
  • 2. Key Issues, Misconceptions, Disagreements and Alternative Paradigms
  • 3. Dumping and Subsidies: Unravelling the Confusion
  • 4. The Impacts of Liberalized Agricultural Trade
  • 5. Alternatives for a Different Agriculture and Food System
  • Conclusion - Another Food System is Possible
  • Special Topics:
  • How the WTO Rules Agriculture
  • Government Negotiating Blocs
  • Where European and American Family Farmers Stand
  • Where Peasant and Family Farm Organizations Stand
  • Food from Family Farms Act: a Proposal for the 2007 US Farm Bill
  • For a Legitimate, Sustainable and Supportive CAP
  • People's Food Sovereignty Statement


'Food is Different makes the case, with clarity and passion, for rebuilding the global food system beyond the unequal and devastating consequences of the WTO 'free trade' regime. Rosset guides us through the thicket of rules and regulations, explaining their irreversible impact on social and ecological sustainability and engaging us with a powerful and compelling catalogue of alternatives, captured in the concept of "food sovereignty.'
 'Philip McMichael, Cornell University

 'Food is Different comes at a time where the WTO is being criticed and discredited by both governments and civil society, and it brings to the fore the real alternatives being proposed by social movements all over the world. This is a timely publication that gives voice and expression to those who have none.'
 Paul Nicholson, European Farmers Coordination (CPE) and La Via Campesina

‘Peter Rosset eloquently illustrates that food is the basis of human existence and that it intertwines the lives of farmers, consumers and the environment. Food is Different should be read by all who are willing to build food sovereignty on a local, regional and global level as well as by those who believe the current WTO system is working - it will change their minds.’
Andrianna Natsoulas, Food and Water

'Watch 'Global Issues, Zed Books' series of accessible guides to what's happening in the global economy, examines areas such as development, debt, poverty and crime. Written by academics and activists, few books on globalisation match their relevance and scope and Peter Rosset's book is an excellent addition to the list.'

'The message of the book is that food is not like any other commodity that is traded across borders, but is different beacuse of the way it is produced..'
Leisa Magazine Ecological processes at work.

'...Looks at the key issues..Feasible policy proposals are presented concerning dumping, supply management, anti-trust measures, subsidies, and venues for negotiations that could achieve just that.'
CAB Abstracts Database

 'Rosset explains the market tools put forward by the World Trade Organization regarding agriculture, showing how they function and malfunction. He argues for alternative methods that build up the "food sovereignty" movement. Food is Different covers an essential subject.' Horizons 'This book demands a place on the shelf of all those who are involved in food, farming, agriculture, and development specialists and activists alike.' Sharon Wyrrick,Gastronomica 'A clear and accessible account of the impact of trade liberalisation on farming.'
Food Ethics


Publication Date: 1 August 2006
192 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781842777558
eBook ePub: 9781848136724
eBook PDF: 9781848130647
eBook Kindle: 9781780326832
Library Edition: 9781842777541

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