The Global Food Economy

The Battle for the Future of Farming

Tony Weis


A comprehensive guide to the issues affecting world food production.

The Global Food Economy examines the human and ecological cost of what we eat.

The current food economy is characterized by immense contradictions. Surplus 'food mountains', bountiful supermarkets, and rising levels of obesity stand in stark contrast to widespread hunger and malnutrition. Transnational companies dominate the market in food and benefit from subsidies, whilst farmers in developing countries remain impoverished. Food miles, mounting toxicity and the 'ecological hoofprint' of livestock mean that the global food economy rests on increasingly shaky environmental foundations.

This book looks at how such a system came about, and how it is being enforced by the WTO. Ultimately, Weis considers how we can find a way of building socially just, ecologically rational and humane food economies.

Author Bio

Tony Weis is an associate professor in geography at the University of Western Ontario. He is also the author of The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock (Zed 2013), as well as co-editor of A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice (2014) and Critical Perspectives on Food Sovereignty (2014).

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. The Global Food Economy: Contradictions and Crises
  • 2. The Temperate Grain-Livestock Complex
  • 3. From Colonialism to Global Market Integration in the South
  • 4. Entrenching an Uneven Playing Field: The Multilateral Regulation of Agriculture
  • 5. The Battle for the Future of Farming
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
  • Index


Praise for the first edition of The Global Food Economy:

‘This is the book I have been waiting for. Tony Weis gives an ecological foundation to analysis of food regimes, something that many of us having been attempting in less capable ways for some time’ 
Harriet Friedmann, Journal of Agrarian Change

‘Finally, a book summarizing the current state of agricultural policies that my mother could read, and that can stand up to a critical eye…In this effort, Weis succeeds with flying colours’ 
K.R. Avilés-Vásquez, Development and Change

'I hadn't imagined that a small book could do justice to so large a topic before I read Tony Weis on the global food economy - it's necessary and terrific: intellectually rigorous and informative, full of insight and provocation.' 
Henry Bernstein, SOAS

'A searing indictment of big agri-businesses ... A sane and passionate plea to reorder the global food economy ... The book ... should find a place in our bookshelf.' 
Economic and Political Weekly

'A sweeping overview of the contradictions and crises in the global food economy.' 
Food Ethics

'Compact and readable, Tony Weis confronts head-on the forces that have brought about the paradoxes in the production and distribution of food around the world.'

The New Agriculturist

 'A patient and enthusiastic insight into a key aspect of international development and environmentalism.'

Red Pepper

 'A powerful book ... incorporate[s] so many components into its contained and up-to-date narrative, it is well worth reading by both scholars advanced along the road of global food and agricultural studies, and by those who reside in Weis’s state of original unconsciousness ... Weis has made an impressive and valuable contribution to a burgeoning scholar-activist literature that seeks not just to show us the dangerous flaws and injustices of our contemporary models of food production, but also to indicate where we might go for practical and meaningful alternatives.'

Josh Brem-Wilson, Organization and Environment

 'Students new to the political economy/ecology of food and agriculture…sometimes struggle to place the various components of the global agrifood system into a coherent conceptual framework. This book will be a useful tool for such students, as it outlines both the causes and impacts of accelerating structural changes around the globe in one accessible narrative.'

P.H. Howard, Agriculture and Human Values

 'Tony Weis ... presents a highly informative narrative ... [and] provides abundant fact-based arguments to confidently engage in political dialogue on the driving forces of a food system seemingly in perpetual crisis ... With his important book on this vital topic, Tony Weis has provided nothing less than a solid departure point for such debate.'

Glenn Brigaldino, Review of African Political Economy

 'At last, here is a book that draws together the differing historical-geographical trajectories that today invite discussion of a specifically global agricultural dilemma, and what might be done about it ... this is an uncommonly synthetic and focused book.'Daniel Niles, Annals of the Association of American Geographers


Publication Date: 16 June 2007
224 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781842777954
eBook ePub: 9781848136885
eBook PDF: 9781848131415
eBook Kindle: 9781780322544
Library Edition: 9781842777947

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