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IGA-422: Global Food Politics and Policy

Food and farming have emerged as urgent social concerns. The policy challenges in this area range from widespread undernutrition in many poor countries to a growing obesity crisis in wealthy countries. Skewed ownership of agricultural land and inadequate public investment in infrastructure cause 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 instead subsidize farmers, often at excessive cost to consumers and taxpayers. Expanding livestock industries trigger conflict on grounds of health, food safety, and animal welfare. Rapidly evolving cultural demands for organic, local, and slow foods present challenges to the conventional food and farming sector. Genetically engineered seeds spark 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.

Robert Paarlberg
Harvard Kennedy School
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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2013-2014 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.