Research Handbook on the WTO Agriculture Agreement

Research Handbook on the WTO Agriculture Agreement

New and Emerging Issues in International Agricultural Trade Law

Research Handbooks on the WTO series

Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta

Agriculture has been the unruly horse of the GATT/WTO system for a long time and efforts to halter it are still ongoing. This Research Handbook focuses on aspects of agricultural production and trade policy that are recognized for their importance but are often kept out of the limelight, such as the implication of national and international agricultural production and trade policies on national food security, global climate change, and biotechnology. It provides a summary of the state of the WTO agriculture negotiations as well as the relevant jurisprudence, but also, and uniquely, it focuses on the new and emerging issues of agricultural trade law and policy that are rarely addressed in the existing literature.

Chapter 3: Do WTO Rules Improve or Impair the Right to Food?

Christian Häberli

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, international economics, environment, environmental economics


Christian Ha¨berli I. INTRODUCTION The global food crisis of 2007–08 seems to have been forgotten. Media attention at the time focused on food riots in Haiti and Mozambique, while world leaders and more than a dozen international organizations gathered for several food summits, calling for immediate relief measures. All in all, however, the governmental and inter-governmental response was sadly limited to a few high-profile conferences and action plans with no follow-up at the regulatory and institutional level. The attention of the mighty and wealthy focused on the subsequent financial and economic crises. What is really alarming, however, is that apparently no lessons were learned when for the first time in history the number of hungry people exceeded 1 billion (FAO Press Release, 2009a). Interestingly this ominous record was reached in mid-2009 – at a time when food prices had already dropped by 40 per cent. By 2010 ‘only’ 925 million people were still undernourished – yet this number was still higher than before the food crisis (FAO, 2010). In November 2010 the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that prices could rise again in 2011 (WFP, 2010). And so they did.1 Moreover, the IMF expected this rise to continue with non-oil commodity prices expected to increase by 11 per cent in 2011 (IMF, 2011: 6). Again, this seemed to matter only where the angry poor rioted in the Middle East and elsewhere. But not a single government seems to remember its obligations under the Right to Food (R2F) which the...

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