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Faculty: Robert Paarlberg
Food and farming have emerged as urgent social concerns. The policy challenges in this area include widespread undernutrition in many poor countries, a growing obesity crisis in wealthy countries, and unstable international food prices. Populations displaced by war and drought struggle for access to international assistance. Skewed ownership of agricultural land and inadequate public investment in infrastructure bring rural poverty and social inequity. Unsustainable farming systems encouraged by sub-optimal government policy are both a cause and a consequence of climate change. In poor countries governments typically tax farmers to subsidize food consumers, while in rich countries they subsidize farmers, often at excessive cost to consumers and taxpayers. Expanding livestock industries invite controversy on grounds of health, food safety, and animal welfare. Advocates for organic, local, and slow foods challenge conventional food and farming practices. Genetically engineered seeds spark intense conflict. This course will review the politics of food and farming in both rich and poor countries. It emphasizes the durable importance of national governments and national policy making, plus the significant influence of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), multinational food and agribusiness companies, and international NGOs ranging from humanitarian relief and advocacy organizations to social entrepreneurs and philanthropic foundations. Guest speakers will be scheduled, and students will be invited to help organize optional field trips.