International Trade and Food Security

International Trade and Food Security

Exploring Collective Food Security in Asia

NUS Centre for International Law series

Edited by Michael Ewing-Chow and Melanie Vilarasau Slade

Food security is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Through a collection of commissioned studies, which draw upon the experience of leading experts and scholars in trade, investment, law, economics, and food policy, this book assesses whether self-sufficiency is an adequate response to the food security challenges we face

Introduction: Setting the stage: The problem with self-sufficiency and the need for collective food security for a global crisis

Michael Ewing-Chow and Melanie Vilarasau Slade

Subjects: law - academic, asian law, international economic law, trade law, public international law


The 2008 food crisis exposed the vulnerabilities of the global food system and their direct impact on human wellbeing. The sudden increase in commodity prices pushed over a hundred million people into chronic hunger. Some scholars have also suggested that the high prices contributed to the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East which led then to the continuing political instability in the region that started with the Arab Spring. Though following the crisis the number of hungry is reported to be declining, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that 805 million people were still suffering from chronic hunger in the period 2012–14. Instability in the region was also increased by the 2011 food price increases and the sudden perceived failure by regional governments to provide essential food security to the population. As if the devastating effects of food price volatility on the most vulnerable and the current inequality of food distribution together with the potential for increasing political instability were not sufficient incentives for action, the world’s population is growing by around 77 million people every year. By 2050, there will be more than nine billion people reliant on the earth’s natural resources.