Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Anthony Payne and Nicola Phillips
Chapter 12: Food price volatility and global economic governance
The food crisis of 2007-08 ushered in an era of extreme food price volatility in world markets. Price volatility has a serious impact on access to food among the world's poorest people, who typically spend 50-80 per cent of their income on food. The number of people experiencing chronic hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, rose sharply after 2007 (FAO 2012: 10). Sharp rises and falls in food prices are also devastating for farmers in the world's poorest countries. When prices rise, incomes may also rise. But, when prices are unpredictable, incomes also become more viable and the resulting uncertainty can easily stifle investment in future productivity increases. It is now widely predicted that volatility in food prices will be an ongoing feature of the world food economy, rather than just a temporary situation. There has been much discussion in international policy circles as to how best to reform global governance mechanisms to promote food security in this new era of unpredictable food prices. This chapter examines the interface between the governance of the global political economy and food security. Specifically, it looks at food price volatility and frameworks for global economic governance; both the way in which those frameworks have contributed to bringing about a situation of food price volatility and the food crisis associated with it, as well as the ways in which global economic governance frameworks, shaped by the interests of various actors, are seeking to respond to those problems.
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